Keynote speaker Elias George, Managing Director, Kochi Metro Rail, won the loudest applause from the rapt audience. 'In the next 20 years, 750 million Indians are going to live in our cities and that is a frightening thought. Urbanisation will be one of the first five challenges in the country in the coming years, and one of the key parts of this urban challenge is the urban mobility game,' he said, as he shared the mantra to get urban infrastructure right. Excerpts from his talk:
When we started work on the Kochi Metro five years ago, we thought our job was to build a metro and run it. But we soon realised that's not enough.
We realised that we are in the business of managing mobility. So, the corporate vision of Kochi Metro now is to connect people and places, not just building and running a metro.
When you go from output to outcome, we realised that the kind of money spent on building metros in India is not enough. There are about 200 metros in the world; only about 10 make profits while the rest are in losses. So, why do cities go for metros? In India, about eight cities have metros currently; about 40-50 cities are going to have metros in the next five years; a huge explosion will happen and it costs a lot of money - about Rs 200 crore per km for overland metro and six times more for underground. So, to make this money meaningful and manage urbanisation, you have to make the metro a lever for creative destruction, in the words of Clayton Christenson. Using the advent of the metro as a lever for destroying the existing public transportation system and reengineering - that's what we are trying to do in Kochi.
Kochi is the first city in India that will have a unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bill, which is going to our assembly in the next session starting in December. Once this Bill becomes a reality, all the public transport - the metro, buses, ferries - will be managed singly because of the power the Bill gives us.
We want Kochi to be the first city in India where the entire public transportation system works together seamlessly with a single ticket, a single timetable, a single command and control, and a single management. Besides, we are also going to have a Kochi One card, a ticket and an app that can be used seamlessly across transportation media.
At Kochi Metro, every fifth metro pillar is a vertical garden, which uses treated sewage municipal waste. So, we have a recycling process ongoing in the metro system, which is now being emulated by others.
Also, about 30 per cent of our metro power will come from solar energy. The entire theme of Kochi Metro is Western Ghats.
We are also using the metro as a venue for nature awareness; the sights have the sound and pictures of the flora and fauna on the system.
To view his entire speech, log on to www.ConstructionWorld.in/eliasgeorge