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Friday, November 27, 2020

Explained: How Kochi’s integrated transport system will work

Blessed by an extensive network of waterways and its location in the centre of Kerala, Kochi is serviced by all major public transport modes: private and public buses, trains, Metro rail, cabs, autorickshaws and ferries.

Written by Vishnu Varma , Edited by Explained Desk | Kochi | Updated: November 2, 2020 6:53:55 pm
Explained: How Kochi's integrated transport system will workThe Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) will come into effect in Kochi on November 1. (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan)

On November 1, the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) will come into effect in Kochi, Kerala’s financial nerve-centre, as an umbrella body to shape and preside over an integrated, seamless urban transport system in the city.

What was the need for KMTA?

Kochi is the largest and most populous metropolitan area in Kerala. Blessed by an extensive network of waterways and its location in the centre of Kerala, Kochi is serviced by all major public transport modes: private and public buses, trains, Metro rail, cabs, autorickshaws and ferries. However, urban planners in the city have complained that these modes of transport, though individually expansive and far-reaching, suffer from lack of integration and connectivity, leading to inefficiency.

In 2017, when the first phase of the Metro rail was inaugurated in Kochi, the need for a transport authority that can streamline multiple modes of transport with a single ‘command and control’ centre strengthened. In fact, a precondition set by the Centre in 2013 for the approval of a rapid transit rail in Kochi was to integrate all public modes of transport and introduce a common ticketing system for the convenience of commuters under the National Urban Mobility Policy.

The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), the vehicle that operates the metro rail, took the lead in forming a committee for the transport authority and help draft a bill that can address the needs of the city. In November, 2019, the Kerala Assembly passed the Kerala Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) bill that cleared the way for metropolitan transport authorities to be formed in three cities in the state – Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Kochi.

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Will the KMTA be a government body and who will be its members?

The KMTA will be an independent body which will be responsible for operation, maintenance, development and supervision of public transport modes in urban areas in the city. The body will be chaired by the state’s transport minister with the transport secretary acting as vice-chairperson. It can have a maximum of 15 members including the district collector, city police commissioner, secretaries of local bodies, mayor, local MLA and representatives from state bus corporation. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram 

What can Kochi look forward to under KMTA?

A single ticketing system, preferably through a rechargeable smart card, for public and private buses, autorickshaws, Metro rail and ferries is one of the key benefits. Already, the Kochi1 smart card, used for Metro rail, is being implemented in a section of the private buses. Route rationalisation of buses will be done to ensure service especially during peak-hours.

There will be a common time-table to ensure seamless connectivity between different modes. With the inauguration of the ‘Water Metro’ service next year, as part of which A/C and non A/C ferries will connect islands around Kochi, a unified time-table will be significant.

Public information systems will be set up inside buses and at bus-stops. A majority of the private buses in the city have already been fitted with GPS devices. In the Greater Kochi area, a parking policy will be introduced and operators will be issued licenses.

The KMTA will also have jurisdictional powers on improving amenities and cleanliness at bus stands and ferry terminals in the city. Moreover, there will be a single command and control centre to supervise the entire system.

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