Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bangalore Metro and some more

A growing city has many needs and many aspirations. To fulfil them every stakeholder has to be a willing participant in the growth story. Generally the populaces are somewhat reticent in taking a proactive approach but the government has to be proactive and ensure none of the stakeholders fall behind in this race for a better future.
In Bangalore the public transport scenario is much better than what is to be seen in other part of the country and now the metro is all set to get its name added to the plan of things. The metro scene has been the proverbial, “bit too little bit too late”. But we hope it really catches up. 3 years and a dismal 6 kilometres is all there to show, that is a bad harbinger. In addition the route coverage is something that can be a great topic of debate. The areas being covered are by no means the crowded section of the city. In the words of Mr. K. R. Srinivasa, MD (BMTC), “If Metro is to take vehicles off the roads Phase II needs to be completed. Not many people will use the Metro at this stage as it doesn’t make sense to get on at Baiyappanahalli and get off at MG Road, unless you live or work along these lines or close by”.

Metro at Lalbagh Flower Show-2011
So currently the metro does not solve any problem. It just allures to a better mode of transport in the future. Globally it has been seen that metros by themselves are not the best solution to traffic woes or congestions. They need many tertiary arrangements like feeder services that add to the ridership. A good feeder service in the form of buses, trains, mono rails etc can only leverage the full potential of an extensive metro network.
In Delhi also the government provides commuters with park and pay like facility where they can park their private vehicles at the metro stations and take the metro to destination. In addition many dedicated metro feeder buses are there to connect distant locations to metro stations. That is the way going forward. Metro per se is not the be all and end all of all the commuting woes in the silicon valley of the east. Though it is being marketed as one but by itself it cannot solve even a miniscule part of the issues. A multipronged strategy is needed to tackle that. The same should be kept in mind by the Bangalore city planners; the more the cohesion the optimal the utilization.
Multi-pronged MRTS options like Suburban trains, EMU, monorails, buses and bicycles should go hand in hand with an expensive alternative like metro.
On the eastern corner of the city lies Whitefield railway station. Railways can definitely try to augment its local train service to connect that corner to Yeshwantpur, Cantonment and City Central stations. Like the ring roads we can have ring rails too. The Kengeri satellite town has not seen any concerted growth. NICE corridor is still mired in political controversies. Most of these are based on greed of the political class. Mysore has a great potential to become the twin city of Bangalore. A spurt in growth of Mysore will automatically open up a corridor 180Kms in length between Bangalore and Mysore which can be used as infrastructure corridor.
Monorails, metro rails and other conventional commuting options have one limitation though. And with such a wonderful weather that Bangalore has, another option that should be extensively explored is safe cycling options for the dwellers. Almost 40% of the 8 million Bangaloreans are residing in the core of the city. Even if modest 1% of these core urban population shifts to using bicycles this will mean 30 thousand people following a better lifestyle, generating less carbon footprint and above all giving some reprieve to the already bursting at the seam civic amenities.
The government should try to spread the growth horizontally. The future to a decongested city lies in a well spread out yet well connected city. These 6 kms are just a beginning. Let’s hope in times to come we have a world class transport system that syncs with the perception of the Silicon Valley of the east.