The state government’s proposed monorail transport system in Ranchi may turn out to be as loss-making as it is in Mumbai for it will cater to only 5% of passengers, public transport experts said on Sunday.
The `4500-crore monorail project was approved by the state government on Saturday during a high-level meeting after shelving the proposed metro rail system on the grounds of geological non-viability. However, experts said the monorail system too could prove to be an economically non-viable project in the context of its proposed operation format.
Quoting micro-calculations, they said the system, which would operate on only on a 25-kilometre stretch and cater to 5% passengers in the state capital per day, would accrue a daily loss of about `6 lakh. This puts a question mark on the government’s decision to tick the system without addressing its economic sustainability through wider passenger coverage area, they said.
However, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) project manager Rajendra Verma suggested that the second phase should also be planned and worked on simultaneously as a viable sustainability backup because a loss situation might not allow it later.
He said, “The Mumbai metropolitan region development authority (MMRDA) has shelved the plan for the second monorail corridor. The authority has cited low ridership and availability of cheaper road transport alternatives. The per day operation cost of the system comes to around `7 lakh against `2 lakh as the collection from tickets.”
The transport experts’ apprehensions are not out of place as the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) in its ground survey too had concluded that the bus rapid transit system (BRTS) was more viable in Ranchi than monorail as per the population and peak hour peak direction traffic (PHPDT) analysis.
“Ranchi’s maximum PHPDT on major routes is less than 4500 and population is 10.73 lakh, which is ideal for BRTS, according to NUTP,” Verma said.
Ranchi Mobility Partnership (RMP) member Avinash Kumar said that the monorail was a dying idea in many countries due to high operation cost. “It is now being used in amusement parks and Disneyland. The system is getting success only in the cities where its corridors connect residences and offices,” he said.
Verma even quoted ITDP’s transport mode study and said about 80% passengers of the city could be helped by providing them various modes of public transport, mechanised footpaths and parking at cost of `4,500 crore. The study revealed that about 28% passengers pooled autos, 17% used two-wheelers, 5% four-wheelers and 5% buses and 8% cycles. He said, “Per day auto trip is around 7.35 lakh on 17 major routes of the city. Monorail will run on two routes, which will not get more than 5% passenger share.”
Director municipal administration of urban development department, Shashi Ranjan Prasad Singh, said that the state government had asked the MMRDA if the monorail project was running in losses as per the media report. But, the authority had given a positive feedback. “Thereafter, we have given go-ahead to project in Ranchi,” he said.
Singh admitted that the city was suitable for the BRTS but it needed a dedicated lane, which a big challenge in Ranchi, he said, adding narrow roads had come up as another deterrent.
A senior official of the Infrastructure Development Finance Company, which prepared the feasibility report on monorail, said that the Maharashtra government had decided not to extend the monorail system as metro rail was a more viable option in Mumbai. He admitted the system in Ranchi would have to be sustained through rentals and advertisement revenues besides ticket sale which could meet only half of the operation cost.