A vote for 'reliable,' 'cheaper' travel mode

Last Updated 13 February 2016, 19:45 IST

Extremely high vehicular density tops the list of myriad problems sparked by Bengaluru’s explosive population growth. Commuting in the City has turned into quite an ordeal for lakhs of Bengalureans. The roads are mostly choked with traffic, triggering an unprecedented rise in pollution levels. In such a scenario, most citizens feel a suburban rail network could really help decongest the roads here. 

The City does attract millions of people. But since the cost of living within Bengaluru is often unaffordable to many, they choose to reside on the outskirts or even in smaller towns just outside the city proper. For these multitude of people belonging to the middle and lower classes, travelling to the city and back for education or work is a daily grind. Having a well-connected suburban rail network eases the commute for such people, cutting down on the time and cost of travel. 

History professor Dr Jamuna is convinced that the great need of the hour is a suburban rail network. “At present, there are mostly long-distance trains that run between Bengaluru and other cities. People commuting from the suburbs are forced to take these trains which are heavily crowded. Having a reliable rail network helps cater to the floating population in the City,” she explains. 

She commutes daily between Doddaballapur and Bengaluru. “The commute is quite taxing even if one is not driving. If an effective rail system can be introduced, I would prefer to travel by train,” she says. Rail travel is also more affordable than commuting by bus. This makes it an attractive alternative for the economically weaker sections, she feels.

Venkatalakshmi, a garment factory employee, agrees with her. Even with a bus pass, fares are on the higher side. Rail travel can keep the expenditure low, says Venkatalakshmi. She adds that rail travel is also a safer alternative than the private transport option that she is most often forced to rely on.

In the words of Murali Aandaperumal, an engineer at Mercedes-Benz, public transport is not very easy to use in Bengaluru. “If I have to travel from one end of the city to the other, I have to change two to three buses, which is a waste of time. That's the reason many professionals choose private modes of transport over public. Having suburban rail helps ease traffic in the City. It is also a cost-effective and eco-friendly option,” he says. 

Introducing a full-fledged suburban railway network has strong backing from Bengalureans and those living on the outskirts and smaller towns on the periphery.

However, they also believe that the project can be feasible only if the trains are frequent. The train timings should be scheduled in such a manner that the peak hour rush can be catered to. The routes should be properly planned and the stations designated so as to help most of the commuters. Suburban rail could then easily become a viable public transport option. 

(Published 13 February 2016, 19:45 IST)

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