The project to operate e-autorickshaws as feeder services from Kochi Metro stations has been dampened since Kochi Metro Rail Limited and Ernakulam District Autorickshaw Drivers’ Cooperative Society are on two pages on the issue.
Making matters worse, the pandemic threw a spanner in the operation of a dozen e-autos, which were mostly stationed in metro stations along MG Road. Sources in the society said that many of them had fallen into disuse during the past few months since the pandemic affected their patronage and they remained berthed at metro stations, following which their batteries had run out of power.
“On a positive note, members of the society did extensive trial runs of e-autos of different makes, following which the MVD has been entrusted with the task of zeroing in on the ones which are best suited for Kochi. The parameters include quality, cost and operation and maintenance expenses. A major issue is inadequate number of recharging stations. Despite differences of opinion with KMRL, the society expressed its willingness to provide drivers from its 4,000-member strong database to operate e-auto feeder services from the metro corridor,” they said.
e-autos have advantages like being non-polluting and having little vibration, unlike diesel and petrol-run autos.
“We will approach Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority with our demands in case KMRL is hesitant. Already, our ride app. named Ausa is undergoing trials and will be rolled out shortly,” the sources said.
In the meantime, metro sources said that KMRL had written to the manufacturer to resume operation of e-autos. “They are hopeful of doing so in a month. We are looking at other options too like giving licence to individual drivers who are willing to operate from metro stations,” they said.