From congested roads to crammed coaches, no respite for commuters

Increased ridership has created huge rush in the three-car metro trains. The wait for six-car trains continues.

When the Namma Metro’s operations kickstarted from Vijayanagar, Sushma P was elated. For her, the Metro was the saviour from the traffic congestion on city roads. “But now, I am trying to find a spot to keep my foot in a crowded metro coach. I might just get back to travelling by my four-wheeler,” the freelance artist says.

As much as ditching the car had made her feel like she was doing her bit to reduce the traffic on city roads, Sushma is beginning to feel it might not be worth it. “I definitely am for a greener and congestion-free city, but the BMRCL is not doing enough to keep up with the increasing ridership. There need to be more coaches and a ladies’ special coach might be even better,” she adds.

Sushma is not alone in feeling the Metro is not keeping up with the increasing ridership. Tina Joseph, who takes the metro every day to reach her workplace, dreads a rainy evening. “The number of commuters multiplies and it is unbearable with all the drenched people stuffed into the coaches. Does the BMRCL not see it? They have to realize that the Metro is no longer for a jolly ride or tourist attraction. The number of coaches must be increased,” she says.

A rail enthusiast, blogger and guest speaker, Chitresh Shrivastva believes that the commuters’ preference for the Metro is evident but the BMRCL’s slow work is a reflection of the problem in administrative decision making. “The BMRCL must be given the autonomy from the state government and the Ministry of Railways, to take decisions and implement the six-coach train to decongest the existing trains. Especially, during rains when people are in a hurry to reach their homes,” he suggests.

For some, the problem is not limited to the number of coaches. It is also about the timings and frequency. Consider this: The Metro begins operations at 8 am on Sundays unlike 5 am on weekdays. “Maintenance might be the reason for Sunday’s late start of the Metro. They must find an alternative to that. On weekdays, people just wake up to reach the office by 9, but only on weekends do they have the liberty to go out early,” Pramod Kumar, a techie says.

Another commuter, Amreen Fathima talks about the lack of planning and vision. Government agencies should work in tandem with civic activists and experts. “I am sure they have experts in the department, but they may need a commuters’ perspective or an outsider’s viewpoint. The lack of supporting infrastructures like a subway or overhead bridge or even last-mile connectivity defeats the purpose of spending so much to promote public transport,” the home-maker says.

She wonders aloud: “Why will someone ditch their comfortable car for a cramped Metro coach? The authorities must plan to accommodate those who take the train by foregoing the comfort of their private vehicles. A ladies’ special coach, like the one in the Delhi Metro, will encourage more women to take the metro.”

For rail enthusiast and blogger, Chitresh Shrivastva, the solution is to understand the commuters’ needs. “Despite the Metro’s launch seven years back, the city still witnesses traffic snarls, much of which can be attributed to short coach lengths and slow progress of new metro routes. There is also the unwarranted political interference and a tussle between the centre and the state government,” he says.

The solution for temporary decongestion, says Shrivastava, lies in introducing trains of varying lengths, as in the case of Delhi Metro based on the route traffic and demand. “The headway between two successive trains must be revised along with uniformity in operation timings on all days.”

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From congested roads to crammed coaches, no respite for commuters

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