Yesterday I happened to read an article about the upcoming Bangalore Metro working to decide the fares between particular stretches of their journey. This got me thinking about a topic which many of us have discussed threadbare.
Is the metro a solution to a city’s transport problems? Is it suited for the Indian context? Does it reduce congestion and pollution as planned? There are hundreds of questions one can think of…
Delhi and Kolkata are the two cities in India which are currently having a metro. The Metro project in Delhi has been one of relative success at least in the public eye.
But interestingly if you go deep down, you realise that the Metro which was initially built for 3 million passengers per day finally carries only 1 million despite cancelling more than 100 bus routes on the journey. It has obviously led to the displacement of more than 200,000 people but only 50,000 have been rehabilitated.
In Bangalore and Hyderabad there have been problems with people complaining that the Metro is affecting the city’s cultural centers by making them weak. Even though there is strong use of blast resistant technology, the problems don’t seem to die down there. There have also been the usual complaints of lack of transparency and no importance being given to environmental issues like the upcoming Mumbai Metro which is still stuck in the cans.
The Pune metro plan is one of utter lack of knowledge of the city’s transport system and population fabric. Without any basic understanding into the functioning of the city’s traffic systems, the plan seems doomed from the start.
For a place like Kochi whose population is expected to reach 6.5 lakhs only by 2026 and which has a very low birth rate, a metro system doesn’t make much sense. Add to that the presence of three national waterways where a strong ferry system can be developed and even a much stronger bus and local train system and you wonder what the powers that be are thinking before pushing such plans forward.
If we see in totality, there are certain basic problems with the metro system. It is sadly never ever considered together in partnership with the other transport systems like bus, train etc. The reasons for implementing the system though good on paper actually becomes a means to start it at rather than discuss with the general public about implementing such a system.
The environmental sensitivity required while implementing such a project is rarely done with care and concern rather it becomes another activity in the entire list. The metro system in many cities has over-ridden the bus routes. But little or no justification is given for the same. It has also been seen that many a time the metro corridor has become property development routes rather than transportation routes.
Cities in Europe built metros in the 20th century because they had centralized business districts. Do we? The cost estimates have escalated over the years with poor revenue collection. All in all the hurried planning of the metro system leaves a lot to be desired.
Until such issues are solved, the educated individual won’t be fooled into believing the happy headlines about Metro carrying millions of passengers every day.
Your thoughts welcome !