On 29 April Bengaluru witnessed the launch of the first underground metro corridor in South India. With this the Purple Line of Namma Metro is fully functional, carrying commuters on an 18.2 km stretch in 38 minutes bringing their travel time down by almost half. A road trip even without peak hour traffic would easily take an hour and a half.
The Reach 1 of the metro, from Baiyappanahalli to MG Road, was completed in 2011 and Reach 2, from Magadi Road to Mysore Road, in 2015. These stretches did not connect to any of the busy junctions of the city and so the footfall in these stretches was around 20,000- 22,000 on an average day. A dismal figure, for the crores of money invested in the project. Now that the underground section connects Reach 1 and Reach 2 with the high profile and important areas of the city has the metro finally gained popularity among the citizens?
Vasanth Rao, general manager and chief public relations officer, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRC), says, “In the week since its launch Namma Metro has seen on an average around a lakh people travelling every day. The trains generally run between 6 am to 10 pm, but on days when Bengaluru is hosting the Indian Premier League matches the trains ply even past midnight. Currently the trains make 115 to 120 trips per day at a frequency of 7- 15 minutes depending on the time and volume of people commuting at that time.”
And the jump in trips during IPL matches and the rising footfalls due to the newly commissioned underground link between the two routes is also resulting in praise from tweeple.
BMRC has more plans in store for its commuters like providing WiFi and retail-and-transit facilities at the metro stations. They are working in tandem with Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the city bus service provider, to provide feeder bus services to solve the issue of last mile connectivity. They are also in the process of launching an app that will help the commuters with information like feeder routes, timings, fares, parking and other commuter related services. Meanwhile they are also working on reducing the travel time further by five minutes and increasing the frequency to every three minutes. In a city like Bengaluru, traffic is the bane in everyone’s life. So does the metro help to resolve this issue? While the metro does not ply in the areas that house the IT sectors and other important hubs that face severe traffic bottlenecks, it still goes through some critical areas like Cubbon Park, Vidhan Soudha, etc. During peak office hours even these areas tend to get crowded. People working in these places now can choose to commute by the metro. “Since its inauguration, I have begun to commute to work by the metro. Earlier I used to go by my bike from my home near Mysore Road to my workplace near MG Road. Though the metro is a more expensive option, I still prefer it as it is more comfortable and I can completely avoid traffic,” says Sijo Abraham, a professional. He further says, “While Mysore Road doesn’t have as much of traffic issue as other parts of the city, it is heading in that direction and so the metro comes more as a preventive measure. Before the traffic issue gets much out of hand the metro has come to the rescue.”
KR Surabhi, a student at Christ University, tried the metro two days after its launch from Vidhan Soudha to Indira Nagar. “I wanted to experience it as it is something new, but it does not ply in the route that I take so I simply went on a joy ride. The metro could be a solution to the traffic woes if it could connect the rest of the city as well. Even though it is slightly more expensive, people would opt for it as it is more comfortable and saves time as well.”
Sarayu Srinivasan, a reporter for a news portal, says, “The metro might not be an easy solution for the city’s traffic issues. The traffic is not on the metro route, it is elsewhere. But it will definitely help to cut down travelling time for commuters.” She further complains, “Once the train goes underground the phone receives no signal.”
People now reach the metro stations by their private vehicles and then park it at the stations for the day. Currently the stations on Reach 2 are allowing free parking while Reach 2 stations charge a nominal amount for a day’s parking.
The Phase I of the metro will be completed with the completion of the Green Line, which currently has Reach 3 in operation.
“The Green Line will also be completed by the end of this year,” Rao said.