Pod-taxi route in conflict with Metro alignment

Pod-taxi route in conflict with Metro alignment

 The grand 30.5-km pod-taxi network proposed by the Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) could run into conflict with a critical Namma Metro Phase 3 line: The Marathahalli Hosakerehalli route tentatively proposed to pass right through Old Airport Road, the main pod-taxi line.

The Palike has made it clear that the pod-taxi pillars will be erected on the median strip. How can this be managed when the Metro pillars are bound to take up that space? Urban mobility experts also question the financial viability of running two similar modes of transport along the same line.  

Touted as a feeder to the Metro and last-mile connectivity option, the pod-taxi network could potentially fill gaps in the Metro network. But the route chosen, though tentative, is apparently a duplication exercise.

Consider this: The pod-taxi line starts at Trinity Metro station leading to Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) stations at Agaram, Domlur, Hotel Leela Palace, HAL Airport, Gandhinagar (just after Marathahalli) and beyond towards Whitefield. Besides route overlap, the preliminary alignment drawings of the Marathahalli–Hosakerehalli Metro Phase 3 line show stations at Agaram, Command Hospital, Domlur, Murugeshpalya, HAL, HAL Museum, Yemalur Cross and Marathahalli.

The pod-taxi network, however, could potentially meet its Metro-feeder objective partially on three proposed lines where there is no Metro connectivity: Trinity Metro station to Agaram, HAL Airport to Baiyappanahalli Metro station via BEML (pillars on Suranjan Das Road median) and Gandhinagar to Brookefields.

ORR alignment  

Conflict arises again on the proposed pod-taxi route from near Marathahalli on Old Airport Road to Ferns City along the Outer Ring Road. The Metro Phase 2 line from Silk Board junction to KR Puram runs exactly on this ORR route.

Dismissing pod-taxis as something suited only for Disneyland theme park joyrides, Sathya Sankaran, from Citizens For Sustainability (CiFoS), rules it out as a mass transport option. "When millions of people have to be transported, how can pods that carry a very limited number of commuters be even an option? Go put them in Nandi Hills," he says.

Such short-sighted decisions, he adds, could have been avoided if the city had a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA).

Proposed to be built on a private-public partnership model, the pod network could extend to the entire city if the BBMP has its way. Without a long-term vision, however, the alignments could come into serious conflict with Namma Metro, experts say.

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