Convenient transportation facilities, easy navigation and relaxed traffic may be a distant dream for developed cities in the country. But messy traffic can’t be brushed off as the adversities of living in a jam-packed city. Growth comes only when development eases the life of the general public. While Kochi is among the fastest growing cities in the country, its junctions are a nightmare for motorists. Express takes a look at the traffic mayhem at Kaloor Junction in the heart of the city.
KOCHI: Only a braveheart counting agility as a talent can pass the Kaloor bus stand and reach the other side unscathed. Hyperbole aside, chaos rules supreme here with private buses dominating the road and the bus stop with little care for the safety of others. One can also see autorickshaws zigzagging their way through the mess, looking for passengers.
Many two-wheelers and four-wheelers are forced to come to an abrupt stop barely brushing the buses. And then there are the pedestrians who cross at random points, seemingly without any thought for the vehicles and far away from the ‘supposed’ zebra lines. The bus stop structure here is designed for buses going to Kacheripady or Padma to stop by. However, bus drivers have their own points of pick up and drop off across the city.
Gladys, a passenger waiting here at the bus stop, sounds tired as she speaks of the traffic. “We feel as if the buses would run us over all the time. They come in like jets leaving us clueless as to where they would even stop,” she said.
Nidhi, a regular commuter, recalls how she slipped and almost fell on the road when she was trying to move away from the buses. “They even stop the buses closer to the signal. Sometimes, passengers have to do a running competition. One has to stand here only ten minutes to see a brush with an accident,” she said.
When the Kaloor Metro Station was built within the bus stand premises, most buses had moved their operational base to the Vyttila Mobility Hub while some of them remained. The long-distance buses stop inside the stand while the city services stop outside. KSRTC buses also stop outside.
A free left is seldom available here while proper signboards are hardly there to ease navigation; adding to the confusion and increasing the danger. An illegal auto stand also functions along the roadside and the makeshift shops are another issue altogether.
“It would be better if the buses stopped inside the stand,” said a traffic police officer.“The chaos it creates currently is awful. Also, buses stop in the middle of the road making it impossible to open the signal until they move it. Passengers too can be blamed for the buses stopping wherever they please as they wait away from the bus stop.”
Kochi needs Urban Mobility Pattern
Chairman of the board of Centre for Public Policy Research D Dhanuraj said the problem with the city transport system is that there is no public transport architecture or framework. ”All concerned are clueless when it comes to this. We now have the Metro, Water Metro, ferry, bus and boat service. However, there is no clear-cut plan or idea as to where to link them, where to start or terminate a service. Urban mobility pattern must be learned. Various spots should be identified as transit areas for a hub like we did in the case of Vyttila Mobility Hub. The right spots in Kochi must thus be identified. Proper studies and research must be done. There must be a clear-cut idea as to which are the transit points, where should a service begin from and end, etc.”