Even as a whopping 1.17 lakh people travelled in the Kochi Water Metro on High Court-Vypeen and Vyttila-Kakkanad routes during the past fortnight, not all the nine ferries have been deployed in the two corridors.
Referring to the long queues at terminals, NGOs and passengers’ associations said many more people would have benefited had all the nine vessels been deployed daily for operations. Each of the 50-seat ferries can accommodate up to 100 passengers.
Responding to the matter and reports of a couple of ferries being withdrawn from service for maintenance at the Cochin Shipyard, Water Metro sources said they were operating ferries in the High Court-Vypeen corridor every 15 minutes. This has resulted in an average of over 9,000 people relying on the service as compared to the estimated 2,900 commuters a day on the stretch. This went up to 11,000 commuters on a few days. The original plan was to operate the ferries at this frequency during peak hours and at lesser frequency during the rest of the day.
Despite demand, more ferries cannot be introduced in the corridor since the State Water Transport department (SWTD) ferry jetty and the Vypeen-Fort Kochi ro-ro jetty are located close to the Water Metro jetty. Too many vessels jostling for space in the area is not ideal, while increasing the frequency of services could cause fatigue to crew members.
The frequency of services on the Vyttila-Kakkanad stretch too was increased considering demand from commuters. Still, there are times when they have to wait to get tickets. While four ferries are operating from the High Court jetty, two are being operated from the Vyttila jetty. The three other vessels are being used as spare boats or withdrawn from service for periodic upkeep. In addition, each of the hybrid ferries in operation ought to be recharged every hour, the sources added.
The shipyard is expected to deliver two more ferries by June-end.