City Focus: Kochi Towards Smart Urban Mobility

Kochi is already making significant move towards smart urban transport system

In its smart city proposal, Kochi has envisioned one of the largest automated urban transport systems integrated with a mix of water ways, eco-train and road ways as part of the Smart City project in Kochi.

The city, which is positioning itself as the cultural gateway of Kerala, is not leaving any stone unturned to achieve this vision. And the fact that Elias George,the CEO of the Kochi Smart City also happens to be the managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd make the case for smart mobility even more stronger.

The work on Kochi Metro is moving at a fast pace and it gets ready for commercial operations in April next year.

Even before the commercial operation, the Metro agency has charted out plans to ensure revenue generation for its operations and maintenance. KMRL is set to release tenders for placing advertisements on Kochi Metro, its stations as well as other tangible properties by mid-January 2017.

Over time, KMRL will come up with more innovate steps to generate revenue. Initially, five metro stations have been selected for branding. These stations will carry the names of the brands for three years.

Apart from these, Kochi Metro will get a revenue of Rs 209 crore as card premium from Axis Bank. If the smart cards are used for a pur-pose other than transit or transportation, the bank will have to provide 20 per cent share of such revenue to KMRL.

The KMRL is also working on the 18-acre integrated township that it would develop in Kakkanad to source revenue for metro’s operation and management. The corporation has maintained that the construction works would commence within months and tenders will be invited within weeks. The township is a precursor to the Metro Village proposed in 200 acres at Muttom.

And the city has already attracted many foreign players to participate in the programme. Germany is a major partner for the solar programme. Now other foreign players are keen to participate in the various infrastructure project for Kochi Smart city.

The French government has offered help to formulate an operation and maintenance strategy for Kochi Metro and to set up a traffic-support centre. Mayor Soumini Jain and other metro officials had already visited Lyon in France to study its implementation.

The traffic-support centre will be an integrated command and control centre which will be set up here using funds of the Smart City Mission. The government has given administrative approval to KMRL to establish the centre which will be the nerve centre to integrate and streamline different modes of public transport. Only a few cities such as Pune have this. The French have offered technical know-how on this.

The offer comes close on the heels of French development agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD) sanctioning a Rs.1,500-crore loan for the metro’s phase one and offering another loan worth approximately Rs.1,100 crore for its Kakkanad extension. They have also offered approximately Rs.215-crore loan for improving urban infrastructure along the metro corridor.

UK-based Company Kloudpad has also expressed interest to participate in Kochi, The company is set to invest Rs 5,000 crore in three years to set up an electronics hub in Kochi, which will manufacture products for intelligent integrated transport and offer the wireless backbone for the ambitious Smart City project in Kochi.

Once the metro rail will be operational, KMRL will construct mobility hubs in 12 suburbs, including Aroor and Kodunganoo. The Kochi Smart City is already working to improve other mobility infrastructure. This includes modern footpaths, safe crossings for pedestrians and parking space for feeder buses and auto rickshaws.

The total project cost of Rs 2076 crore will be funded across multiple sources including convergence of Rs 505 crore with central and state schemes and raising around Rs 243 crore through PPP, beneficiary contribution and contributions from other sources.

The Kochi Smart City has signed a formal agreement with the Bengaluru-based Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited (iDeCK),the consultant for the preparation of the Corporation’s Smart City proposal.