Boat rides make waves in backwaters once again

Passenger traffic on the boat services being operated from Ernakulam Jetty to destinations like Fort Kochi and Mattancherry has been witnessing a sharp increase lately, with State Water Transport Authorities attributing this trend to the recent fuel and bus fare hikes.

“All our boat services are now more or less full. Average weekly earnings have touched nine lakh. Now we’re facing problems in controlling the crowd in Fort Kochi and the Jetty during the morning rush hour,” said jetty stationmaster Sasi Kumar.

“On the first working day post the bus fare hike, there could have been at least a hundred more commuters than normal and this trend has continued. Now the revenue per day is around Rs 32,000, over Rs 2,000 more than registered previously,” the official said.

“Yes, more commuters in the Fort Kochi-Mattancherry region who used to travel in their own vehicles or take public transport buses now prefer going by boat,” the official added.

The biggest attraction is the wide difference in fares. Even now the maximum fare charged by a boat is a mere Rs 3.50 (Ernakulam-Mattancherry) while a ride in an ordinary bus would cost you Rs 14.

A family needs to spend only Rs 10 (`2.50 per person) to travel to Fort Kochi as opposed to Rs 44 by ordinary bus (Rs 11 per person). Besides the boat journey takes less time than it does by road.

Sadly, the authorities have no plans to increase the number of boats from the current six that are deployed in various sectors.

They cite a fund crunch and the non-availability of boats but the passenger association has already come forward demanding additional services.

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