Reach-I just a trailer

Reach-I just a trailer

Reach-I just a trailer

 However, experts do not believe that it can. “It will live up to the initial euphoria, but it is too short a distance to measure its performance,” said an expert.

The feeling that the inauguration of the first line of Namma Metro is just a marketing event with a host of politicians vying for the best spot on the ‘vastu-directed’ ‘East facing’ dais at the Manekshaw Parade Grounds just refuses to retire from the minds of the people. That the BMRCL should have at least connected ITPL or Majestic is a common feeling. The selection of stations on the reach is seen more as an image booster for the City than a service to solve traffic woes at the least.

The mega event for which BMRCL has earmarked Rs 2.5 crore will see Union Minister of Urban Development Kamal Nath flag off the first train and Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda preside over the inaugural function.

Union Minister for Railways Dinesh Trivedi, Union Minister for Corporate Affairs Veerappa Moily, Union Minister for Labour and Employment Mallikarjuna Kharge, Union Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa, former chief minister Dharam Singh and Japanese Ambassador to India Akitaka Saiki will participate. But of what use is a Metro service with several key issues left unresolved is a question that begs answers. One of the most important issues is the schedule –– 6 am to 10 pm –– which people think will serve no purpose.

“What is the purpose of the Metro which shuts operations before the BMTC’s last bus plies and starts operations after BMTC’s first bus leaves the depot?” asks Vishwanath, a resident of Baiyappanahalli. Ridiculing BMRCL’s decision, Anisha, a resident of Indiranagar, who works on Residency Road, said: “The Metro would have been ideal for me if it could wait till my work is done. Now I cannot use the Metro on my way back home. So, I do not know if I should invest in a transit card?”

That the Metro will be welcomed with much fanfare is in line with the anticipation. But it won’t be of much use. The first phase of Namma Metro is divided into two corridors of double line electrified rails, covering a total distance of 42.30 km.

The East-West corridor will be 18.10-km long, starting from Baiyappanahalli and ending at Mysore Road terminal via Swami Vivekananda Road, Indiranagar, Ulsoor, Trinity Circle, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Cricket Stadium, Vidhana Soudha, Central College, Majestic, City Railway Station, Magadi Road, Hosahalli, Vijayanagar and Deepanjali Nagar. The 24.20-km-long North-South corridor starts at Nagasandra and terminates at Puttenahalli passing through Mahalakshmi Layout, Rajajinagar, Kuvempu Road, Malleswaram, Swastik, Majestic, Chikpet, City Market, K R Road, Lalbagh, South End Circle and Jayanagar.

Of the 42.30-km network, 8.822 km will be underground near City Railway Station, Vidhana Soudha, Majestic and City Market and most of the rest will be elevated.
Of the 41 stations on Phase-I, Reach-1 has six stations –– Baiyappanahalli, Swami Vivekananda Road, Indiranagar, Ulsoor, Trinity and MG Road –– covering just 6.7 km. The project is expected to be a game-changer in India’s Silicon Valley, whose population has increased almost 50 per cent in a decade to 9.6 million. However, it will not even fulfill one of its primary objectives of easing traffic with the inauguration of this reach.

Former Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) Praveen Sood, who had worked closely with BMRCL, has repeatedly emphasised that the traffic problem cannot be addressed with Metro alone and definitely not with this reach of the service. Ask him if Metro will solve Bangalore’s growing traffic problem and he says: “It depends.”

Rajesh Krishnan, a resident of Ulsoor who works in the City (Majestic) area, opines: “This appears to be just a marketing exercise. Is Metro coming to enhance the image of the City or to change the worrying transportation scenario here?” he questions. The frequency of trains is another thing that experts have a problem with.

“A train every 10 to 15 minutes? There is a great likelihood that I get a bus earlier than that,” says Vikas, a resident of Ulsoor.

No provision for parking the feeder buses inside any of the Metro stations, experts believe, will add to congestion on the roads along the Metro line.

M N Sreehari, advisor to the State government on traffic, transport and infrastructure, agrees that Reach-1 will not be able to meet people’s expectations with regard to transport. He says: “There are several problems that BMRCL needs to look into too.”
Sreehari believes BMRCL would have helped solve at least some problem, if it had begun the tunnelling work earlier and provided connectivity till Majestic.

“For people to take to the Metro seriously, it should at least go out of their immediate neighbourhood. But in this case, the distance is so short that most people taking the train will be those taking it for the fun of the ride and may continue commuting in their personal vehicles or other means of transport to work,” he said.

Experts also pointed out that the fare, about 1.5 times higher than the bus, will also be a dampener considering the short distance. With such a short distance, cost plays an important role. The fact that the fares are higher than bus fares and that the Metro does not go too far will play on people’s mind. “Although the reduction in time is one of the key attractions of Metro, Reach-1 is unlikely to provide BMRCL that leverage,” another urban affairs expert said.

So the grand success of the Metro will be that it deleted the rustic class of MG Road, demolished several buildings on CMH Road and gave a teaser of a service that will cater at the most to those who love going on a ride. With functionality almost absent on Reach-1, people hope for the completion of the entire project without delay to provide a service that in the words of former chief minister S M Krishna will put Bangalore on the highway to become Singapore.

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