The Kochi Metro has been sustaining a per-day loss of Rs.85 lakh. The annual loss of the service, the first phase of which runs from Aluva till Pettah, is Rs.310 crore.
The Kochi Metro, conceived and implemented as the face of new-age Kochi, is apparently turning out to be a white elephant.
The metro service is operated irrespective of the patronage - it is run even if the rakes are packed or scantily occupied. The average number of metro users dropped from the pre-COVID number of 64,000 to 24,000.
The impeccable cleanliness, punctuality of service, and convenience seem a little inadequate to attract the common man to the metro. The last-mile connectivity is still an issue in spite of various initiatives.
People feel the metro service could either reduce fare or offer benefits to loyal commuters to woo them back.
The Chennai Metro is expected to offer a 30 per cent reduction in fare; the Hyderabad Metro is about to announce a ‘50 per cent challenge’ wherein every trip for Rs.100 will get a refund of Rs.50. The Jaipur Metro is offering a 50 per cent discount on all travel after 5 pm.
The Kochi Metro saw the highest patronage, 1.25 lakh people, in January 2020. The main reasons were three: free return journey, free parking, and the extension of running hours from 10 to 11 p.m.
Experts say more ‘fare products’ should be thought of to woo those who are yet to use the metro.
New bus routes
The bus route now runs parallel to the metro route. This should be redrawn and buses could take an east-west route as the metro takes a south-north course. The Vypeen buses could be let into the city and bus services could be introduced in places like Subhas Chandra Bose road, Thammanam-Pullepady road etc.
The Rs.310-crore loss is as per the report for the 2019-20 financial year. The 2020-2021 report, which also includes the lockdown period, is also expected subsequently.