Kochi Metro Explores ‘Shared-Auto’ Route for Affordability

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The Kochi Metro project, envisioned as a sustainable and economical mode of public transportation, is set to delve into shared-auto services along its metro corridors. Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), with the nod to introduce shared mobility as part of its feeder service, is gearing up to conduct a comprehensive study to assess demand and traffic patterns.

Although the concept of shared-auto services might be relatively unfamiliar to most residents of Kerala, it has proven to be both cost-effective and convenient in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Jaipur. While the state regional transport authority (RTA) had greenlit shared-auto services in 2022, the initiative didn’t materialize. Sources indicate that auto unions in the state have been traditionally opposed to the idea, raising questions about their potential reaction once the project gains momentum.

The RTA directive paved the way for e-autos to accommodate up to three passengers, with a minimum fare of Rs. 10 for every 2 kilometers traveled. This concept is seen as instrumental in providing affordable last-mile connectivity to metro commuters.

A KMRL official emphasized the importance of exploring shared-auto services to enhance the affordability of metro travel. The upcoming study aims to identify demand and address transit gaps, particularly in areas lacking adequate bus connectivity or experiencing service deficiencies. The official highlighted the discrepancy of paying Rs. 30 for metro travel only to shell out Rs. 50 for an auto ride to reach the final destination, underscoring the need for a more cost-effective solution.

The initial shared-auto service is slated to operate between Cusat metro station and the sprawling university campus, spanning 180 acres, on a trial basis. Plans are in motion to ensure that the introduction of shared mobility does not disrupt existing auto drivers’ operations, with discussions ongoing to devise a system that accommodates both conventional autos and shared-auto services seamlessly.

According to officials, shared mobility is among the future projects of Kochi Metro, albeit acknowledging the challenges that come with its implementation. Despite the hurdles, the exploration of shared-auto services signifies Kochi Metro’s commitment to enhancing accessibility and affordability for commuters in the region.

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