'Retail in transit' at Metro stations from Nov

Kiosks, art galleries, gardens getting ready. So is the MG Road boulevard

'Retail in transit' at Metro stations from Nov

If all goes as planned by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL), the ‘retail in transit’ facility will commence from November this year at the five Metro stations.

In addition, space for art galleries, an open air theatre and a boulevard are getting ready on MG Road for the use of the public.

Catching up with the transit-oriented retail business which is the in thing in major metros of the world, BMRCL has drawn up a master plan for utilising the urban space along the rail lines and within the stations. It is not just the MG Road station which is allowing retail kiosks. Even the other stations are getting ready to offer similar services. But all stations are not going to have all varieties of shops, though coffee shops, money vending machines and 24/7 chemist shops are coming up in all the stations.

While vendors are being selected through a bidding process for putting up retail kiosks outside the ticket counters in the stations, civic work is almost getting completed beneath the boulevard on MG Road to offer space for art galleries.

The reconstructed boulevard is getting back the green touch in addition to two walk paths and a waterfall. The walk path is about 600 metres.

While the right side of the MG Road metro station is getting 30-35 feet wide space for art galleries and an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 120, the left side is being developed as an Urban Square with a water fountain. Shops to sell flowers and hot beverages are coming up. Space has also been created for people to sit and relax.

“We wanted to create an urban space where people can laze around. There will be walkable urban space in all the stations. We had promised the citizens that the MG Road boulevard would be given back to them. We are giving back a better boulevard with lots of greenery and flowers. Provision is made to have as much greenery as possible in all the urban space we are creating with the assistance of the State Horticulture Department,” said U A Vasanth Rao, General Manager (finance), BMRCL.

Utility shops, toilets

The MG Road station is getting a laundry machine too. Except this station, the rest will have hair salons. Takeaway snacks bars are going to be there besides book shops. Some stations will have even shops to repair daily use items such as shoes, bags and umbrellas. Only packaged readymade food will be sold in the stations. But, eating food is strictly prohibited within the stations and inside the trains.

The most essential amenity – toilets - are being built at the two ends of the MG Road station. A contractor has already started managing the use-and-pay eco friendly waterless toilets by paying Rs one crore royalty to BMRCL.

When asked why BMRCL is encouraging retail shops in the stations, Rao said, “The commuting people’s daily needs should be met at the stations. Each station is going to be unique. For example, while there is a demand for a book shop at the Trinity station, the Ulsoor station will have food kiosks selling Western food, because there is a sizeable population of foreigners in that area. The SV Road station is going to get 70 kiosks selling authentic delicacies of South India. The Baiyyappanahalli station is going to offer multiple facilities, including vehicle parking. No sub-standard product will be allowed to be sold in any station.”

Art galleries

The attraction at the MG Road station will be the art galleries where artists - visual, performing, sculptors, singers, mixed-media and the like - will be allowed to conduct shows. No space will be sold, though sponsors to manage the galleries may be allowed. Nominal rent is likely to be fixed for hiring the space.

The officer said, initially, BMRCL would invest to create certain facilities. Later, it would like to ensure that they generate revenue to become self-sustainable, while not following a mall culture.

Can retail shops survive by just depending on Metro commuters?

“Why not? By 2015, we expect about 10 lakh footfalls in our stations per day. People should be encouraged to take mass transit. We have plans to make available pre-loaded Metro cards which can be used for making cash payments,” he said.

Rainwater harvesting

Facilities to harvest rainwater at the five stations of BMRCL are almost ready. Rainwater is going to be collected from all sources, including viaducts. Fountains, waterfalls and gardens at the stations will be maintained using rainwater. Sumps have been constructed to harvest water. All the five stations are being inter-connected to collect rainwater.

Baby care centres

BMRCL is toying with the idea of allowing creches at its stations to help working mothers. However, this may take some years to materialise, Rao said.

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