Come April, the National College-Puttenahalli line will be thrown open, bringing a small measure of relief. As roads grow more clogged and projects like the steel flyover sound a death-knell for Bengaluru, the Namma Metro, our one hope, has been fraught with delays and poor management. It's time to speed things up, says Rohan Ramesh
Namma Metro has the hopes of Bengalureans hanging on a thin thread. Built to ease traffic on Bengaluru’s overcrowded roads, Namma Metro has see deadlines pass by every other time.
The project was conceived, prepared and presented by the Delhi Metro Corporation Limited (DMRC) in May 2003. BMRCL set the scheduled construction start date in 2005 but this was delayed by a February 2006 change of government in Karnataka. There was also a raging debate over whether the project was financially feasible for Namma Ooru.
Approved by the Union Cabinet on April 25 2006, the project saw first signs of construction on Reach 1 - the stretch of the Purple Line between Baiyyappanahalli and Mahatma Gandhi Road. Faced with project faced delays and missing several deadlines, BMRCL put the blame on land acquisition problems. BMRCL also sited difficulty in drilling though the hard rock of the Deccan Plateau for the underground section of Namma Metro. On October 20 2011, the section was thrown open to the public.
When the plan was approved by the Union cabinet, the cost was expected to be Rs 5, 400 crore (US$800 million). The cost ultimately ballooned to over to Rs 13, 845 crore (US$2.1 billion) as various problems plagued the project and hampered its completion.
Track testing and calibration tests are going on at the moment. “The train will move 10 feet back or forth and engineers will check for faults. Speed trials will begin once track testing and calibration works are over and safety is guaranteed, said Mr. Vasanth Rao, Chief Public Relations Officer, BMRCL.
Construction on the 72.1 km Phase II of the Bangalore Metro system began in November 2015. The first section is expected to open in 2019 and the last section in 2024. Once Phase 2 is operational, the total network length will become 114.395 km. This phase involves the construction of 2 new lines on standard gauge tracks & the extension of the lines built in Phase 1 in all 4 directions.
Phase I is expected to be complete and operational by March/April 2017. Mr. U.A.Vasanth Rao added, “The Metro trials beganon Sunday and are going on The National College – Putennahalli stretch. We have set April as the deadline to start commercial operations on the line.”
The south end of the Green Line will connect Puttenahalli to Anjanapura along the Kanakapura Road. The north-end from Hesarghatta Cross will connect with Bangalore International Exhibition Center (BIEC) on Tumkur Road (NH-4). The east end of the Purple Line will be extended from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield and the west-end will reach out from Mysore Road to Kengeri.
Washrooms: Namma Metro’s No 1 problem
Traveling by the Metro has become a daily chore for many of us Bengalureans. Not only does the metro save time and cost but also provides passengers a safe way to reach their respective destinations.
DC spoke to a few passengers and gauged whether facilities provided at Metro stations are enough. Suneet Singh Puri, a resident of Indira Nagar said, “I use the Metro from Indiranagar to Mysore Road. The facilities are OK compared to Delhi Metro but I really could not find a restroom. To tell you the truth it must have been around but I was in a hurry and hence was not able to find the washroom.”
Transparency too has been an issue dogging Namma Metro. Dominic .F. Dixon an employee of the United Nations and Director of Academics at UNITAR said, “I bought a card for R.50 and asked for a top up of Rs.500. They gave me a single consolidated receipt. After much haggling and threats to take BMRCL to the courts, I was offered an explanation and an apology. This must not happen. BMRCL must be transparent and answerable to the civil society!”
Parking has been a major issue at certain metro stations as well, such as on M.G. Road. Software professional Ajay Ramakrishnan said, “I recently went to the Metro station on MG Road. I wanted to park my car but there was no space hence drove around for a while until I could find place on Commercial street. On the other hand a station like Baiyapanahalli has enormous amounts of parking space. Something needs to be done car parking at stations such as MG. Road.”
North-South corridor will bring great relief to motorists: MN Sreehari, Traffic Expert
Generally, I feel the North-South corridor, once completed, will provide major relief to motorists on the roads. With work progressing on the East-West corridor, roads shold be easier to travel on. For example people from Peenya need to use the bus till Sampige road where they can board the metro. If this stretch is completed it will make roads more free.
Also there are traffic jams in the Kannakapura and Majestic areas. All this will ease when the metro is fully operational. Traffic on the road will come down by about 12% to 15%. I feel the feeder service should also be improved. Metro stations must have ample parking for busses, autos and cabs which will help in providing actual last-mile connectivity. I feel the Metro authorities should provide ample parking for people. At the moment I think they charge Rs.6o for cars and Rs.30 for bikes. Even metro tickets are cheaper. How does this make sense? At this rate the motorist might as well take his two-wheeler or car to office. The Metro authorities have gone on a rampage to obtain land for the project. Most of this land is empty and fenced. Why does the BMRCL not have subsidized or free parking for Metro users. The metro trains, running on electricity, will help save on fuel. In Bengaluru the average car carries 2.65 people. Imagine what a difference this will make, especially considering the fact that the train will carry 300-400 passengers at any time. A lot of tests are yet to be carried out on the Metro stretch between National College Metro Station and Puttenahalli. BMRCL may claim they will operationalise the stretch by April, but I feel the stretch will be operational only by June.