THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It has been over a month since the City Corporation rolled out 30 e-autos and e-rickshaws in the state capital as part of the smart city initiative. However, the project is yet to benefit the people, as the vehicles are yet to become operational. The civic body launched the e-vehicles in haste without proper planning. There were no allotted parking or waiting spots or charging stations for the e-autos which were to be operated exclusively by women drivers.
According to officials, training sessions are underway for the first batch of beneficiaries, as they are unfamiliar with the vehicles’ operation. “The companies which delivered the e-autos and e-rickshaws are providing the training. Also, the vehicles are yet to get registration,” said an official.
To add to the woes, Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Ltd’s (SCTL) plan to set up charging stations for the e-vehicles has also faced setbacks. The charging stations have now been set up at Gandhi Park. An official with SCTL said that the initial plan proposed charging stations at three different spots – Museum, Sree Chithra park and Gandhi Park.
“The plot in Sree Chithra Park was not feasible, as it is always crowded. We might add to the traffic in the area. For now, we have set up the station at Gandhi Park. Three autos can be charged at a time at the station,” said the official.
SCTL is also planning to issue RFID enabled smart cards to the beneficiaries to ensure the charging station doesn’t get misused. “Drivers with smart cards would be able to use the charging station. We will be tying up with a bank to facilitate automatic payment. Also, we will be able to monitor whether the drivers are using the vehicles or not. We will confiscate the vehicle if it’s being operated by someone other than the registered beneficiary,” said the official.
As per the initial route plan, Thampanoor to Manaveeyam Veedhi (via Overbridge, Secretariat, Assembly Complex, Corporation and Museum) and Thampanoor to Padmanabhaswamy Temple (via Pazhavangadi Temple and Chalai Bazar) will get the service. However, SCTL has now decided not to enforce this route plan due to the Covid-19 situation. Town planning standing committee chairman Palayam Rajan said that the civic body has directed traffic authorities to identify a suitable and safe spot for parking the e-autos and e-rickshaws.
“We have to ensure the safety of women drivers. Also, we just came to know that the drivers need special badges or licenses for operating e-vehicles. Once all these issues are settled, the autos will be operational,” said Palayam Rajan.An official of the traffic wing said that the civic body has suggested a press road near cantonment station and Thampanoor for setting up the e-auto stand.
“Both these spots are not feasible and we are still in search of suitable locations as safety is also of paramount importance,” the official added. However, the plan to introduce shared mobility may have to wait till the pandemic subsides in the city. “For now we are encouraging shared mobility. We have installed partitions in e-rickshaws to ensure that there is no contact between the commuters. Also, shared mobility may face resistance from other auto-drivers.”
SPOTS TO CHARGE
Charging stations have now been set up at Gandhi Park. the initial plan proposed charging stations at three different spots – Museum, Sree Chithra park and Gandhi Park