Sunday, June 20, 2010

Transport integration is the key

I now live in the commercial capital of Kerala, a city that I always wanted to live in as it is the only one in the state with a cosmopolitian charatcter.
It is bursting at its seams with overcrowded roads and traffic jam that extends to all its periphery. Even the byepass has not helped ease the situation in the city.
Personal vehicles have increased manifold over the years adding to the urban chaos. The congested roads are a nightmare when it starts raining. Monsoon is a fact that can't ever be wished away from Kerala. Rather than deal with it effectively, the city fathers sit over it and hope that the complaints would stop once the monsoon season is over. On the day it started pouring, I was out of town and came the next day to see a city with the main MG Road turned into an MG river.

I have often felt that what the city needs is integration of all its traffic infrastructure.
And I hope that the Metro Rail never comes for this small city.
A majority of the floating population in the city arrive by trains and leave by trains. Give the nature of the city, this is only bound to increase. The city has two railway stations, Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town. While Junction (or South in local parlance) has two entrances, only the main entrance of Town station is approchable by big vehicles. A majority of the passangers arriving by trains either has to avail the auto rickshaw service or walk down to the bus stops about a km away.
It would be a big relief if the KSRTC authorities decide to have stops closer to both entrances of South railway station. In fact, that is how it is in major railway stations across the country. This would help cut down on number of autorickshaws running in the city.
It may not be yet possible to have a stop closer to the Town station.
Another major infrastructural development would be to move the state-run KSRTC bus stand closer to the South railway station. Infact both the bus station and railway station can be brought under the same roof if authorities will it.
Kochi has a huge waterbody that need to be put to better use. Until recently the boat services were in use. A major change needed is the introduction of modern boats and not the rickety ones that pass off as passenger boats. And better shelters need to be built at the jetties. Additionally, buses need to have a bay inside such jetties.
A common pass for trains, buses and boats would be of much help. This is working well in cities such as London and Singapore.
The Urban Transport Ministry has to work for a change. Instead of separate ministries working at cross purposes, we need to evolve a common unit to tackle the transport problems of this country. Instead of giving clearance to more car factories, the govt should get more bus factories to help solve the shortage of mass transport vehicles in Indian cities.
Even though I love to drive a car, I frequently take the bus in my city as I can have a relaxed journey!

1 comment:

SunnySmile said...

Quite a wishlist, Bimal! This city (and this state) needs so much longsighted and sustained planning and implementation and it is a wonder why the elected officials prefer to just sit there and do nothing!! I mean, don't they live in this city too? If I were in their place, I'd dread looking at the newspapers in the morning, for fear of being overcome with shame for my ineptitude.