BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Come Independence Day and Panjimites may be in for a surprise with the Government of Goa thinking of introducing a bus metro for the city under the guidance of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL).
The Panjim bus metro has been envisaged by the heads at IPSCDL to be the first step in decongesting the city and in making residents feel like the present-day transport system of Portugal has been replicated.
Seven routes have been designed to cover the city, and with trials on one route already in advanced stages, public transport within the city is going to have three components – electric buses; thirty-six bus shelters; and IT-calibrated components.
"Once the system becomes operational, people will not only be able to download an app that will keep them abreast of the timing of a bus to arrive at any bus stop, but the app will also enable them to pay for tickets," revealed a technical head of IPSCDL on the condition of anonymity.
IPSCDL, after partially tasting success in water management during this monsoon in the capital city, is aiming to enthuse Panjimites with the thought that with the Panjim bus metro, the roads will not just be safer, but more salubrious.
"The main route is the outer route that will see the EV bus start from the Kadamba bus terminal and go through the MG Road to Miramar, Dona Paula, Goa Medical College and return to the Kadamba bus stand through the internal road of Santa Cruz," observed a Smart City executive.
Introducing EV buses (twenty-two have been given to Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) by IPSCDL) is one thing, but getting people to park their vehicles and travel in the city through these buses, is another.
However, according to sources aware of this project in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) "existing parking bays in and around the city will be utilised along with the new ones built".
"Apart from the multi-level car parking near the bus stand, the car parking at Kala Academy, the new one built near Campal Ground, and the car parking at Miramar, Dona Paula and GMC will be utilised for people to park and take the buses," said a member of IPSCDL to back the claim that buses will be used once the reliability of the bus metro is established.
"A bus is structured to reach each bus stand every fifteen minutes and through the app, people will know how long it will take a particular bus to reach a particular bus stop," explained the IPSCDL executive.
However smart the government may attempt to make the city, routine life draws a chaotic picture of transport discipline, with many choosing to take the easy way instead of the right one.
"As a transport officer, I know that apart from the overcrowding of vehicles, the major problem in Goa is that people have no patience. Everyone wants to reach first and break all rules to do so. Educating the people should be the priority of IPSCDL," commented an officer from the Department of Transport on the condition of anonymity.
The buses, which have been sourced from PMI Electro Mobility, will be operated by KTC on a route designed by IPSCDL; Prime Slots are handling the bus shelters and Rooman Technologies from Bengaluru have been roped in to design the app.
"We expect to run into losses for the first six months and even more because it will take time for people to see the efficiency, but we should see profits after two years," claims a source in IPSCDL.
"After seeing the disastrous pictures that appeared on my phone regarding the work of drainage in the city, I am surprised to see that there was hardly any major flooding in the city [where the work was completed]. So, it is difficult to write off this bus metro system being discussed," confessed eighty-six-year-old Suresh Shirodkar from Neogi Nagar.
With drainage work in the city yet to be completed and the results satisfactory, the Rs 49 crore spent on the bus metro could be well worth it. The people of Panjim and visitors to the city might just benefit from this venture.