KMRL MD sets his eyes on a target of 2 lakh riders by Nov. 1
Priority will be given to optimising ridership on metro trains, Loknath Behera, managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), has said.
Mr. Behera was addressing a press conference here on Wednesday after assuming charge a day ago.
The peak daily ridership, even before COVID-19, hovered in the range of 60,000-70,000 while it has now plummeted to 12,000-20,000 with only 12 of the 25 trains operating services.
Critical of what he described as “very low” daily ridership for a mass transport service, Mr. Behera has set a target of 2 lakh riders a day by the Kerala Foundation Day on November 1.
“Though it is a high benchmark, it could still be given a try through collective effort. Increasing revenue through increased footfalls is necessary for development by minimising loans. Optimum utilisation of the existing structure should be prioritised and that calls for systemic changes and a marketing strategy, including concessions to students and senior citizens,” he said.
A committee will be set up to interact with business establishments, schools and corporates along the metro route to improve their usage of metro trains. Mr. Behera also toyed with the idea of flexible fares and revisiting the high parking fee at metro stations.
He is about to set up a social media cell for KMRL as he did while heading the Kerala Police. A Facebook page will be set up with the help of professionals, including the from Kerala Police, which boasts of highly popular social media handles.
“Rentals for space along metro stations will have to be revisited to make them attractive as most of it now remains vacant wasting significant potential for non-ticket revenue. An automated client management system coupled with personal interaction between KMRL officials and the clients will be put in place,” Mr. Behera said.
A single window system for simplifying the hiring of land belonging to the KMRL is also on the anvil. Everything will be cleared in a fortnight and the lessee will have to occupy the space within a month.
Mr. Behera exuded confidence of securing the approval of the Central government for the Kakkanad extension. He said he will visit Delhi next week to follow it up. “Since the project has received budgetary allocation, the Central government approval can be attained through sustained follow-up. In the meantime, preparatory works using the State government funds will be intensified,” he said.
Expediting the Water Metro project, which he said will transform the transport concept, remains another priority. Vytilla and Kakkanad terminals are almost ready while dredging for floating jetties will also be expedited.
Ensuring high-speed Internet aboard metro trains and expanding metro to the Kochi airport also figured in his dream mission.
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