Missing in Kochi: Public transport

As fuel charges increase day by day, private buses are slowly disappearing from the roads 

Published: 29th March 2022 07:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2022 07:20 AM   |  A+A-

A private bus plying in Kochi city with less than 10 passengers | A Sanesh

Express News Service

KOCHI: The city is going through a very difficult stage in terms of transportation facilities. When the fuel prices are going up, private buses are going off the road and, at the same time, Kochi Metro trains, launched on the most saturated route, are not able to attract the passengers who stopped taking the buses.

In effect, the city is getting congested with private vehicles and the traffic chaos is increasing as the days go by. A lesson learnt from the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) city circular services is that the state-run bus service can be effective with public cooperation, city residents say.

According to advocate Ebenser C L, who is also the founder of Kochi Metro Passengers Forum, after the introduction of the metro, almost 400 city buses had gone off the road since they were running in parallel with the metro services. Due to the higher ticket rate, these passengers did not shift directly to the metro, instead, they opted for two-wheelers. 

“Around 65% of the vehicles in the city are two-wheelers and only 1% are buses. If we go like this, within two years, the entire bus (stage carriage) sector will be wiped out. We need to reorganise the bus sector to the east-west corridor and complement both metro and bus sectors. This is done in Mumbai and they have better ridership than what is projected. Lahore (orange) metro copied this model. Our city has a bus route designed 35 years ago. A bus aggregator platform must be the next big thing in Kochi. Just like a taxi, car or auto, you should be able to book a bus using a mobile app. This will bring quality service at affordable prices,” he added.

Though Kochi Metro has resumed operations in full swing,
the ticket rates is keeping daily workers and students
away from its services  | Albin Mathew

The rates of the metro trains are not affordable to the lower and working middle classes and hence they want the fare reduced at least for daily commuters. Jisha Sanjay, one of the salesgirls at a prominent sari showroom in the city, said she had almost quit the bus service post-Covid. Her husband drops her at the showroom and picks her up. “I have got a three-year-old kid at home and I do not want to take any risk. Had the metro introduced discounts for the daily commuters, many like us would have used it,” she said.

Of the metro services in India, only Mumbai has more ‘actual’ ridership compared to the ‘projected’ ridership, according to a study prepared by Lahore’s Orange Metro in Pakistan. Another suggestion put forward by the passengers is to reintroduce the low-floor bus services by KURTC that had acceptance in the city. Post-pandemic, the air-conditioned buses were taken off the road and are rusting in the depots. 

Another neglected area is the public water transport like State Water Transport Department (SWTD) services in a place where at least 25% of the people use water transport. The members of the forum alleged that when the transport minister discussed the chances of increasing the fares of buses, cars and autorickshaws, he did not mention the SWTD boats at all. 

The Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA), formed to be an umbrella agency to incorporate parking, integrate commuting, and rationalise bus routes in the city, is yet to be fully operational in the city, and the passengers’ forum demanded they should be given more autonomous powers to encourage public transport.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp