Mass Rapid Transport Systems the world over have transformed the lives of people and the landscape of cities. That’s exactly the magic Namma Metro has weaved, at least for some Bengalurueans.
The Metro — where ever it is operational — has been a dream-come-true. It has provided respite from traffic snarls, accidents, pollution, wastage of time and money, and liberated us from our “adjust maadkoli” attitude towards these everyday hassles.
Namma Metro services towards Yelachenahalli from Nada Prabhu Kempegowda Station in June 2017 came as a boon to the residents of the southern suburbs of Bengaluru. We had been waiting long for this track to become operational, if only to avoid the treacherous road traffic from Banashankari to Yelachenahallli.
Adjacent localities like Vasanthapura, ISRO Layout, Puttenahalli, Anjanapura etc., saw rapid development and increase in property rentals and land rates in anticipation of this track. The additional extension from Yelachenahalli up to Silk Institute — opened in the New Year — will add to the list of beneficiaries.
Some immediate beneficiaries of the extended Namma Metro service, including myself, are residents of Prestige Falcon City, a sprawling new residential complex of 2500 apartments at Konanakunte Cross. We are excited that there is a new station right adjacent to our home.
I had been travelling everyday in a self-driven car to and from my work place, ICAR-IIHR, Hesaraghatta, during the few months of Metro stoppage (post-lockdown). So have many of my colleagues in South Bengaluru. Now, we have now started commuting by Metro.
I have saved at least Rs.10,000/- per month on fuel costs alone, not to mention the great relief of not driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Whereas the 40 km drive from Konanakunte Cross to Hesaraghatta (one way) would take 2 hours every day, the Metro has saved me about 45 minutes. That’s good time to spend with family.
The safety, comfort and convenience of the journey apart from the punctuality are the biggest advantages.
I am sure that residents in Gopalan Jewels, Gokulam, Mantri Tranquil, Mantri Serenity, Liberty Square, Narayana Nagar, Anjanapura (Lal Bahadur Shastri layout), Nandi Gardens, Sobha Forest View, Reshme Nagar, Kendriyanagar will gain similarly from the Metro.
The Prestige Forum Hypermart and the 1000-seater Convention Center which are expected to open by the year-end could see enormous rise in footfalls.
Last mile linkages
Yet, there is much to be done.
Last mile linkages could be the proverbial Achilles heel in the network. Unreliable BMTC services, bad street lighting and overly exploitative autorickshaws could undo all the benefits of this extended line.
Several areas lying within a 3 km radius of Metro stations like Anjanapura, Brookes Haven, Sarathynagara on the eastern side of Konanakunte Cross Metro and Vasanthapura, ISRO Layout, Uttarahalli on the western side, are handicapped without connectivity.
Apartments close to say, K-Cross or Doddakallasandra stations, have nothing much to worry, but for those like Sobha Forest View, which is about 1.5 kms from Vajrahalli station, the last mile connectivity is a bother.
Lack of adequate, safe, reasonably-priced parking spaces has been another major drawback that worry us on this stretch. There are no facilities to park at any of the five new stations namely, K -Cross, Doddakallasandra, Vajrahalli, Thalaghattapura and Silk Institute.
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited says that land acquisition costs along Kanakapura Road are so high that they could not afford exclusive vehicle parking spaces. But, from a commuter point of view, this is a big deficiency and rightly so.
Women will feel safe to use the Metro if BMTC can assure regular and punctual feeder services. The availability of e-auto rickshaws driven by ladies will encourage more women to use the services.
It is imperative on the part of BMRCL to either provide convenient parking facilities at reasonable cost or to tie up with BMTC to arrange dependable feeder services. Prepaid auto kiosks in Metro stations and app based two wheeler rentals would greatly benefit Metro users. BMRCL cannot expect loyal clientele without providing essential infrastructure for last mile linkage.
Finally, the moot point – will all this lead to lesser vehicular movement on Kanakapura Road? Too early to say anything, especially in view of the prevailing pandemic. Even Namma Metro is not running to full capacity as compared to pre-covid times. Colleges too are not fully functional. With ‘work-from-home’ being the new norm, most software professionals are home-bound. One thing is a certainty – the trajectory of traffic increase will not go skywards for some time, at least. And one can only hope that with the increase in Metro services, they never will.