When the airport was built at Devanahalli, the authorities forgot to build easy access to it from the city. Now, is Namma Metro set to repeat the mistake? The Metro’s East-West corridor, stretching from Mysuru Road to Byappanahalli, is finally ready to be opened for operations, but authorities seem to have overlooked the first mile and last mile connectivity.
Come Friday and the city will reach an important milestone in its connectivity with the Metro Rail beginning commercial operations on its fully functional east-west corridor, including the underground stretch running from Magadi Road to Cricket stadium. While the opening of this line is being looked forward to with much anticipation as it covers a much longer distance than the short stretches the Metro operates over in other parts of the city, questions remain about how effective even this line will be in easing traffic on the roads.
For one, commuters taking the Metro will find it hard to park their vehicles before boarding the trains as not all the stations on this route have the necessary parking bays. In fact,the Majestic Interchange Metro Station, which will see the most footfalls on the line, has not provided for any parking in its grounds for passengers .
So far paid parking is available only at the Byappanahalli and SV Road Metro stations and unpaid parking at the Mysuru Road station. Managing Director of the BMRCL , Pradeep Singh Kharola has argued in the past that although the major Metro stations have the required space, they don’t need to have parking bays as people can use the BMTC feeder services to get to them instead of arriving in their scooters or cars.
But following public demand , the BMRCL relented and called for tenders last year for paid parking at seven of its Metro stations at Sriramapura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Soap Factory, Yeshwanthpur, Peenya, Jalahalli and Nagasandra. Unfortunately it did not receive much of a response. But it is hopeful of a better response this time owing to the longer route available for travel in the Metro on the east –west corridor.
“Now that all the stations will be active, we will soon call for tenders for parking bays at all of them. Once people realise that the stations are seeing a large number of footfalls, they will participate more in the bidding,” says BMRCL spokesman Vasanth Rao optimistically.
Experts unhappy with Metro’s exit design
So far metro had only segments which were functional and hence the crowd was not overwhelming and from each exit there were just 20-30 people going out. But now the scenario is going to change. We will see hundreds of people coming out from an exit at once. This means the footpaths near the metro stations has to be broader than usual so that people are not forced to come on to the road or have multiple exits, which is clearly lacking in the designs of namma metro.
Urban expert Ashwin Mahesh points out, “If you observe the pavements near the metro stations they are not enough for huge crowd. BBMP and BMRCL should work together to dramatically widen the pavements in front of the metro exits. The usual is not enough. We need a better and well planned station exit and excess plan.
They need to look at the flow and volume of people coming in and out. Normally train stations create multiple exits so that the crowd is diverted.” In fact, Majestic Interchange station which is a major terminal will have just one exit to begin with towards the railway station. However, BMRCL official claim BBMP is working on it and they are working together to broaden the footpaths near the stations.
Will the BMTC feeder service be in sync with the Metro trains?
Although the BMTC has conducted surveys and identified key routes for its feeder services, their frequency remains a worry. The feeder services will make sense only if they are in sync with the Metro trains that run every 10 minutes during the day. But the buses are available at a frequency of only 15 to 20 minutes at present. Also, last mile connectivity will be important if the Metro wants to see its ridership increase.
Says a BMRCL official, “We have been talking to the BMTC and they are working on a very feasible feeder service. The frequency will be increased for sure.”
A BMTC official too says surveys have revealed that more feeder services will have to be provided from areas like Jnana Bharathi, Kengeri and Rajarajeshwari to the Nayandanahalli Metro station. “As we have frequent buses running from Kengeri to Majestic, we will divert some of them to these areas and make sure they are available at a frequency of five to 10 minutes.We are also adding more buses for areas near the Vijayanagar Metro station. Additionally eight AC buses and non-AC buses will be added to our fleet from Byappanahalli Metro station to ITPL,” he reveals.
But sadly none of the Metro stations have bus stops , which means these feeder service buses could end up blocking the roads and add to their traffic mess.
“We are quite disappointed with Namma Metro for not providing us any parking space at the Byappanahalli station particularly and other stations in general. However, they have promised to give us some space at the Nayandanahalli station,” the BMTC officer adds.