February 2015, date of the beginning of the Technical Cooperation between KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Limited), SYTRAL (Transport Authority of Lyon), CODATU and AFD (French Agency for Development), workshops are being organized on a regular basis in Kochi (Kerala, India) to follow-up the metro project in terms of intermodal integration, fare integration, operation and maintenance, place making, access for non-motorised transport and institutional structure (creation of a Public Transport Authority).
During the different workshops, those topics of cooperation listed above resulted in the identification of three urban and transportation projects, and the concept design was entrusted to EGIS RAIL, an engeneering company specialized in urban and rail transports:
1- Semi-pedestrianization of « Mahatma Gandhi Road », located right in the city centre and which represents the historical commercial heart of Kochi. Over the years, the infrastructures for pedestrians deteriorated (potholes, lack of footpaths, unauthorized parking…) and today, with the construction of the elevated metro in the middle of the road, the street has become so bad that customers are preferring AC Malls.
It is from that observation, and from the huge discontent of the shopowners, that CODATU and the Town Planning Agency of Lyon have proposed to restore the past glory of MG Road through the pedestrianization of the western side of the street (from the metro pillars to the facade of the shops) and provide green space and urban furnitures. The eastern side of the avenue would remain open to traffic, but only in one direction (south to north), to avoid the traffic transit. This project is also an answer to the lack of open space in the city.
2- Design of one of the biggest junction in Kerala (Edappally), served by the metro, through an improvement of the infrastructures for pedestrians and cyclists, a better intermodal integration and a provision of public space.
As of today, the intersection is a real nighmare, for pedestrians as well as car drivers. A better design of the intersection would make it more « urban » and could be a model junction for the rest of the city.
3- Development of the second phase of the Mobility Hub of Vyttila, located in the south of the city and created in 2011 to facilitate the interchange between city buses, long-distance buses and city boats, and prevent long-distance buses to unnecessarily cross the centre of the city. The challenge for the Phase II, which will integrate the metro, is to provide a sufficient number of bays, develop it as a sub-centre, with a mixed land-use, provide more facilities to the drivers and commuters, including open spaces.
During the February 2016 workshop, SYTRAL, represented by Mr. Martial Passi, Mayor of Givors and Deputy President of SYTRAL, Mr. Philippe Bossuet, Director for prospective, pre-feasibility studies and CMP, and Ms. Olivia Vansoen, manager of the International Relations department, shared their experience in terms of institutional framework, from the creation of a Public Transport Authority to the financement, including steering and day-to-day running of the authority. KMRL, as initiator of the Bill at the origin of the creation of the PTA in Kochi, is likely to become the PTA itself.
In the first week of Ocotber 2016, Ms. Valérie Guillou, Director of Operations in SYTRAL will visit Kochi together with Mr. Martial Passi to discuss the bus rationalization, which is crucial for KMRL as the date of commissioning approaches. KMRL will also have to start conducting discussions with the public and private bus operators, decide the fare policy for the entire network (metro, bus, boat, rickshaw…) and develop few Mobility Hubs as well as Park&Ride at the terminal stations.