Chennai, India (Urban Transport News): The Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) is taking a significant step towards achieving seamless and integrated public transport in the city. Their ambitious plan involves the takeover of the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and operating services using existing rolling stock. CUMTA envisions becoming the central agency responsible for coordinating all public transport in Chennai, providing commuters with a hassle-free and efficient travel experience. This move represents a significant milestone in the city's ongoing efforts to develop a more integrated and sustainable urban transport network.
CUMTA is in the process of hiring a consultant who will conduct a feasibility assessment of the MRTS takeover. The primary focus of this assessment will be the dedicated section of the MRTS, stretching from Chintadripet to Velachery. The consultant will evaluate various aspects of the integration, considering technical, operational, and logistical factors. This comprehensive review aims to provide valuable insights into the readiness of MRTS infrastructure for seamless integration.
If all proceeds as planned, the merger between CUMTA and MRTS could commence by the end of the next financial year, which is in 2024-25. This timeline underscores the commitment of CUMTA towards expeditiously realizing their vision of a unified public transport system in Chennai.
The feasibility study to be conducted by the consultant will encompass several critical components:
1. Asset Review: This involves a thorough evaluation of the MRTS infrastructure's current state and condition. Changes and developments that have occurred over the past five years will be considered. This assessment will be instrumental in determining the readiness of MRTS assets for integration.
2. Recommendations Update: The study will revisit and update the recommendations made in a previous report regarding asset retention and disposal. Consultations with Southern Railway, the current operator of MRTS, will inform the decisions concerning the future direction of MRTS operations.
3. Business Plan: Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the study is the development of a comprehensive business plan. This plan will outline the strategies and operational framework for CUMTA's takeover of MRTS services. The final business plan is expected to be submitted by December.
CUMTA's role has evolved significantly since 2019, with the implementation of rules governing its operations. It has now positioned itself as the central agency responsible for coordinating all public transport in Chennai. This expanded mandate allows CUMTA to take a holistic approach to transit integration, addressing technical, operational, regulatory, and legal aspects.
Under the revised plan, consultants will concentrate on the dedicated section of the MRTS, spanning from Chintadripet to Velachery. The study will also assess the impact of the upcoming extension to St Thomas Mount, which is currently under construction. This approach ensures a comprehensive evaluation of the specific segment of the MRTS system.
CUMTA's ambitious plan to integrate the MRTS into its network represents a significant stride toward creating a more unified and sustainable urban transport network in Chennai. With a dedicated consultant on board and a comprehensive feasibility study underway, the vision of seamless public transport in the city is closer to becoming a reality. As Chennai continues to evolve and grow, this integration effort is poised to enhance the convenience and efficiency of commuting for its residents.