This report on CSES study was published in The Hindu on March 27, 2015
With Kochi city increasingly depending on work force commuting from suburbs and neighbouring districts, there is crying need to discourage private vehicles, while making available adequate number of commuter-friendly public transport systems.
The dependence on workers from outside city limits is because the city area has almost reached its residential development capacity, says a survey-cum-study by CSES, an NGO.
It says that the time spent on commuting can be seen as a continuation of the time on the job. There is an inverse relationship between commuting time and factors such as health, productivity and work-readiness. Stressors such as traffic congestion and lack of reliable and punctual public transport system lessen motivation, increase absenteeism and lessen productivity.
Many workers, including office goers, spend 161 minutes daily for trip to their office and back, which works out to roughly a full month in a year. On the other end are the IT workers, who spend 92 minutes daily for commuting to work.
Ensuring passenger-friendly autorickshaws and preventing fleecing will motivate many private vehicle users to use autorickshaws. Three-fifths of those who travel at night depend on public transport. One-third of them faced problems in getting public transport during night. About 15 per cent of night commuters reported walking through ill-lit or dark streets. On worsening health due to automobile pollution, the study suggests introduction of public transport such as buses and autos that use cleaner and greener fuel.
Very poor walkability along city roads is a major problem faced by the commuters and pedestrians. According to a study conducted in 2008 by Wilbur Smith Associates for the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, Kochi is ranked 15th on walkability index among the 30 major cities in India covered by the study.
Absence of proper footpaths is a major problem. Even if there is footpath, walking on them is often a safety hazard due to uneven/broken surfaces, encroachment by vehicles, shopkeepers, vendors and hoardings and disposal of waste, says the study.