Namma Metro (BMRCL), after a long delay, extended the Green Line services beyond Yelachenahalli station to Silk Institute station, with additional five stops inaugurated on January 14 2021.
But the new stations are not friendly to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. The metro stations have entry/exit gates on the east and west sides. For commuters on the west side, there is only one upward escalator to reach the concourse (ticketing area).
However, after alighting from the concourse they have to walk down the steps (numbering about 35) to reach ground level. Recently, I watched two senior citizens struggling to walk down the steps with the support of the railings to reach ground level.
There is no facility to help persons with disabilities.
Read more: Namma Metro is not designed for inclusivity
Lifts and elevators not accessible
A survey of five metro stations – Konanakunte, Doddakalasandra, Vajarahalli, Thalaghatapura, and Silk Institute revealed that lifts and escalators are available to “go up” from the concourse level to track level on both the east and west sides, according to information received by Changemakers of KP Road. However, only the east side had one escalator and one lift available for the commuter to go down from the concourse to ground level.
It was further observed that even though lifts and escalators are installed on the west side to travel from the concourse to the ground level, they were inaccessible to commuters. But the metro staff had access to these lifts and escalators.
Lodging a complaint
To make the facility available to the general public, I lodged a complaint in the complaint book and then approached the station manager to allow me to use the facility. The manager, after some persuasion, reluctantly escorted me to the lift to ground level.
Creating awareness among commuters
The next step was how to make it available to all commuters. I uploaded the complaint on Twitter and marked it to the CPRO-BMRCL. Changemakers of Kanakapura Road Association (CMKRA), an association of local residents who actively take up public issues with government agencies, was also tagged. The complaint was also posted in four Whatsapp groups to motivate commuters to log in with complaints. Within 24 hours, about a dozen complaints were logged in.
How the complaint was filed
To file the complaint, I went to the ticketing counter and requested a complaint book. The junior staff, after understanding my complaint, said that this is already known to the management and hence there is no need for me to do anything. However, I insisted on meeting the station in- charge, who came out of his cabin after security staff was made to go on two rounds to call him.
He finally came out and explained that it is management policy to keep the lift/elevator shut due to logistic issues i.e requirement for additional security staff, and a baggage scanning machine. I was given the complaint book on my insistence that it is my right to lodge any type of service complaint. Post writing a complaint, I did get an acknowledgement slip along with a complaint number.
BMRCL takes action
The complaint on Twitter was picked up not only by many metro commuters but also by CMKRA and the print media. CMKRA reached out to the MD-BMRCL for his intervention.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) acted swiftly and within four days of the complaint, made the lift and escalator on the west side of the new metro stations from Konanakunte Metro to Silk Institute Metro, operational and available for public use.
This article is part of the Citizen Journalism for Changemakers-CJC Programme, which was conducted from February to March, 2023. This programme was supported by Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies.