The National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) will commence a comprehensive two-year-long study from July-end on the sustainability and safety aspects of the ₹747-crore Kochi Water Metro project, to shed light on the manifold advantages of water transport over other commuting modes.
The study will cover aspects like the quantum of investment in the project vis-a-vis manifold expected gains, like a fall in air and sound pollution caused by other modes of transport when people shift to waterway transport, reduction in congestion and accidents, to name a few, said NATPAC director Samsom Mathew.
Based on the detailed project report (DPR), Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) expects a daily footfall of 1 lakh by 2035 in the 78 Water Metro ferries that it will roll out.
“The study will also cover aspects like gains on energy efficiency and safety fronts, since water transport is considered the most energy-efficient and safest mode of commute. The quantum of time that commuters save too will fall under the ambit of the study, since the time saved can be spent productively with family, for recreation, or in one’s field of activity,” he added.
The expert team will take a close look at patronage on the Vyttila-Kakkanad and city-West Kochi routes, the two routes where KMRL has accorded priority in the initial stages of operation. The study will also assess how airconditioned ferries affect patronage for other modes of commute and willingness shown by commuters to shift to water transport.
“NATPAC is keen to study the Water Metro, since it is unique and the first-of-its-kind project in India. Its operations and integration with other commuting modes could be replicated in many other places, including Alappuzha and Kottayam where ferries [of SWTD] operate. In addition, the study could shed light on deficiencies, if any, in the Water Metro that could be corrected,” Mr. Mathew said.
KMRL has promised all support for the study, including on sustainability aspects like solar panels that the metro agency has envisaged at boat jetties to generate power to recharge the battery-operated ferries that are scheduled to begin trial runs in a month or two, it is learnt.