Internship Experience of a Masters in Development Student @ Kochi Metro Rail Limited: Study of Public Transport, Data Collection
This has been submitted as an entry to the Noticebard Internship Experience Competition.
Name, College, Year
Nelda Tomy, Masters in Development (2017-19) from Azim Premji University.
Kochi Metro Rail Limited, Kochi.
16th May 2018 to 26th June 2018.
During the course of masters in development at Azim Premji University, Bangalore I got an
opportunity to get interned in Kochi metro rail limited as part of my third-semester academic requirements. The internship was at Urban Transport Department, Kochi Metro Rail Limited for a duration of six weeks.
The objective of the internship for the course was to get familiar with any of the development issues in the society such as public health, public transportation, livelihood etc and how an organization in development sector works towards tackling such issues in the society.
I was keen to know about public transportation and related issues faced by people. The purpose of my internship was to study the role of KMRL in developing an integrated urban public transportation in Cochin. Internship at KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Limited) was between the second and third semester of my post-graduation studies at Azim Premji University Bangalore.
Transportation plays a vital role in development activities as it interconnects different sectors of the economy. The demand for transportation has always been at a high end. Lack of proper transportation facilities has led to a variety of mobility issues. On one hand, the rural areas are deprived of public transportation and on the other hand, overwhelming traffic has always been a persistent issue for the urban population.
The lack of proper public transportation services in my village has always been a hindrance to the movement of people and goods. It came to my notice that gradually people in my village started owning more and more personal vehicles to tackle the problem of transportation as it was identified as a need.
As the number of vehicles on the road increased, a new issue had been created, that is traffic congestions, as the roads were not developed to occupy the newly added vehicles. This made me think about the problems of traffic congestion in urban spaces, as the number of vehicles would be much higher in number.
Thus I was very well pushed inside my mind to understand more about the traffic, public transportation, urban mobility etc. My internship at KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Limited) has been fruitful where I got a sequence of experiential days and learnings.
Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is a government organization for transportation service, a joint venture with an equal equity contribution of Government of India and Government of Kerala. A major goal of KMRL is to promote public transportation which is not limited to metro rail system but integrate road, rail and water services to ensure better connectivity in the city and the surrounding suburban area. The office of KMRL is in Revenue Tower, Ernakulam district, Kerala.
My daily commute to the office has been by public transport mainly by ordinary trains and private buses. This has been experiential as I was able to recognize the nature of public transportation services through interactions with fellow passengers who were daily commuters.
A major factor that I observed during the travel is that the supply of public transport has not matched its demand as most of the transport buses and train compartments are packed with commuters on a daily basis. In ordinary trains, the number of compartments was very less so that the people stood packed and also used to sit over the luggage only places.
Also, the number of compartments reserved to women was very less which was just two in ordinary passenger trains. The demand for reservation compartments for women was high. Another fact came to my notice was the irregular stoppage of private buses. Private buses used to stop far away from the bus stops and commuters find it difficult to board a bus.
During the rainy season, this becomes very problematic as most of the bus stops will be surrounded by rainwater and buses would be coming at a high speed that people
first have to prevent themselves from hitting these water on them and then have to walk through the rainwater on roads to get inside a bus. These make mobility problems severe.
KMRL has prepared a comprehensive mobility plan for (seamless transport) Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA). This mobility plan helped KMRL to identify some of the major problems in transportation and KMRL is presently working towards tackling those problems in an efficient manner. Studies are done by KMRL and UMTC (Urban Mass Transit Company) – Ministry of Urban Development approved company with a main focus on providing urban mobility solutions. UMTC is provided CFA (Central Financial Assistance) to conduct necessary studies for the same.
During the initial days of my internship, I was given the opportunity to look at the upcoming projects and policies of KMRL. I was given reports to read and was given the opportunity to interact with different officials at KMRL regarding NMT (Non-Motorized Transport), Feeder services and parking policy.
I tried to study the nature of each policy and then through interaction with the officials, I was able to understand them better.
The major task during the internship was to assist in data collection for the upcoming projects of the company. For the purpose of data collection, I have visited different transport institutions in the city including KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, KURTC (Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation), and PBOA (Private Bus Operators Association) offices. Data collection were done with the prior consent and fixed appointments for meeting with the relevant officers in the departments.
Learnings and Experience
Learnings were about the realities and challenges of implementation of something, conveying our ideas righty to the other person etc. Also, I understood the way how one responds to depends upon their personality more than their position.
In the Urban transport department at KMRL, every staff behave with each other with due respect. They do work cooperatively, by sharing their views, ideas. I believe it as one of the significant factors an organisation should have for the success of their work. Better communication between different departments and staff are necessary things which
will help in moving forward in a cooperative manner. Also, the lack of employee engagement activities may lead to dissatisfaction in the job and may hamper cooperative functioning.
The general understanding of KMRL in society is that it is an organization which is focusing only on building and operating metro rail service in Kochi. As an intern, I have learned beyond that about KMRL as I got the opportunity to directly engage and to understand the policies and projects of the organization.
The organization is trying to solve the whole picture of traffic and mobility issues in the city. Learnings are not limited to the realm of urban mobility, it has also helped me to understand the nature of an organization, behaviour of employees in an organization, their hard work, punctuality, coordination, sincerity etc. Each and every staff in the department is very sincere in their work.
I believe these internship days have helped me a lot to understand deeply about Urban Mobility in both micro and macro level aspects.
There were no stipends or internship fees however I have learnt many things during the course of this internship. In these six weeks of internship, I have been learning a bunch of new things on urban mobility and public transportation. The experiential understanding during internship days is a major takeaway for the future.
Additional Volunteering Experience
Also during my internship days, I got an opportunity to volunteer for a one day workshop ‘Thanalkootu’ conducted by WRI (World Resources Organization) at Fort Cochin. It was on May 28 2018, Monday, the workshop was organized by Kochi Municipal Corporation and WRI India at Vasco Da Gama Square in Fort Kochi.
This venue was chosen as streets and public spaces in Fort Kochi was identified by WRI to be given an improvement in order to create a space for the people in Fort Kochi to gather and thereby preserve their heritage. The objective of the Programme mentioned by WRI was to create awareness about the efficient utilization of public spaces and to gather public demand about these spaces through maximum public participation.
Based on the outputs WRI will approach officials to implement the project of public space improvement.
These internship experiences have also helped me in conducting my research as part of fourth-semester academic requirements on Sustainability and inclusiveness of urban public transportation for people with disabilities in Cochin.
About the Author
Loved my student life, love talking to students now. I am a wearer of multiple hats (wife, mom, cook, chauffeur). My job is my hobby! :)