Bengaluru: Regular commuters to and from the international airport (KIA) have to spend nearly an hour and a half on the road. Besides the time required for travel, Ballari Road is the only approach road to the KIA from the city. The erstwhile government’s mistake of not building another approach road to help maximise toll collection on Ballari Road, has led to constant jams and traffic gridlocks.
While the incumbent government is promoting the steel flyover as the best way to reach the airport, a direct Namma Metro link to the airport seems to be the best alternative. While a RITES study has suggested nine alignments, which BMRCL has put up on its website, and called for comments from the public, the route from Nagawara via Hebbal, Yelahanka and Trumpet junction seems to be the cheapest, according to the RITES estimates.
As part of its Phase-II project, BMRCL hopes to connect Gottigere to Nagawara, a distance of almost 22 kilometres. This same line could be extended and could even connect to the Airport, according to BMRCL’s plans.
The previous state government was very keen on having a high-speed rail link from KIA to the city. Four stations including Cubbon Road (City Center check-in station), Hebbal (Check-in station), Yelahanka (pick-up station) and Bangalore International Airport Terminal Station have been planned along the stretch to facilitate the movement of passengers.
The high-speed rail link proposed to deliver passengers from MG Road to the Airport in less than 25 minutes with speeds exceeding 160 kmph. But this idea was dropped and in 2012, Karnataka’s then chief secretary S.V. Ranganath, asked BMRC to prepare a note on including an extension to the airport in Phase II project of Namma Metro.
When questioned, BMRCL’s public relations officer Mr. U.A. Vasanth Rao said, “The idea is still in the planning stage. It would be too early to comment now. We are still in the process of getting public opinion and are compiling the data.”
I feel a Metro link would be a boon. My sister lives and works in the US and every time she has to go back, I need to drive her to the airport. A Metro link would make things much easier– Rahul V.S.Jain college student
It is like traveling through hell to get to KIA. Every time I come to the city it is a crazy journey on the road. If the Metro extension ultimately comes up, I will be a regular patron– Jagannath Jamma, Mumbai based journalist and regular traveler to B’luru
A metro extension to the airport is urgently needed. The road to KIA is already clogged. Today there are 55,000 cars daily heading to the airport. This number will only increase in the coming years. A metro extension to KIA is critically important and much needed within the next three years– Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education
V Ravichander, Civic Activist: We need to move from lip service to action!
What do you think will be more feasible for the city of Bengaluru – A high speed rail link to the airport or a metro extension?
In my opinion a high-speed rail link to the airport would have been ideal if planned a decade ago., coupled with executing the Commuter rail project.
What do you feel should be done to ease the pressure on Ballari road?
I feel the city must have both a metro extension to the airport and also commuter rail connectivity. Besides this, more approach roads to KIA must be created from Hennur-Bagalur and Whitefield area.
What else can be done?
Four modes of transport should be encouraged. BMTC, Metro extension, Commuter rail and Cab/Mini bus aggregators. BMTC airport buses should terminate at 3 places - Cubbon road, KR Puram and Yeshwantpur instead of the myriad buses to various destinations. This will increase turnaround time. Passengers can manage the last mile connections from these 3 places. Encourage mini-bus cab aggregators to operate too. When it comes to Commuter rail we need to move from lip sympathy to action - we might need to bear all the costs initially to get Railway's support.
What do you think of BMRCL’s initiative of putting up possible alignments to KIA and asking the public for their opinion?
It looks like citizen consultation but the feedback will be based on negligible background data and an individual's local perspective which could be limiting. It is better if BMRCL puts out its best two options for Bengaluru with reasons for the shortlisting. Then it’s possible to comment on the final set of choices.