Chennai Metro Rail welcome, but wish list is long
By Shyam Balasubramanian | ENS | Published: 07th November 2013 07:33 AM |
The Chennai Metro, which was inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday, is expected to augment the city’s public transport system and help ease congestion on road traffic once it is completed. City residents however say they look forward to a significant expansion of the Metro network, if it is to improve the way Chennai gets around.
The biggest concern for residents seems to be whether the Metro would bring connectivity to parts of the city where rent and real estate are still affordable.
“Rent in the city is becoming too high. That’s why many people are shifting to the suburbs. The Metro will see wide patronage only if it connects these parts to the core areas of the city,” says Naveen Thomas, an HR professional, who moved to Valasarawakkam in February, after living in Nungambakkam for around 25 years. He presently rides his motorcycle to work on Mount Road, and says he would much rather use public transport system if only it could ensure he reached work on time.
“Buses and share autos are my only option if I want to take public transport. But what good are they in a huge traffic jam? That’s why a Metro line connecting the outlying areas with the core are crucial,” adds Thomas.
Others say the Metro needs to be extended to areas which are seeing increased commercial activity in recent years. Take M Chandramouli for instance. The IT company executive recently stopped driving to work altogether and started taking the bus from his residence in Adyar to his workplace in an IT park in Ramapuram.
“There is no doubting that Chennai has a very good bus system. But the problem arises when the bus services are not suited to the needs of a busy stretch of office blocks. The government either needs to improve the planning of bus routes or connect areas like Porur and OMR with the nearest transport hubs,” says Chandramouli.
“The completion of the Metro should happen side by side with the rolling back of bus services. That will not only reduce congestion on the roads but also ensure sufficient patronage for the Metro,” he adds.
Beyond differing opinions on how to ensure that the Chennai Metro is relevant to the city’s residents, there also seems to be an understanding that the Metro is not going to magically solve the city’s public transport problems.
“I used to live in Delhi, where the public transport infrastructure has significantly improved since the Metro began operating. The biggest reason for the success of the Delhi Metro was that the city did not have a strong public transport backbone,” says Atul Jha, who shifted to Chennai last year.
“Cities like Chennai and Mumbai have strong public transport systems. This is why I am doubtful over whether the Chennai Metro or the Mumbai Metro might need to come up something special if they are to catch the imagination of the residents,” he adds.
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