Metro Faces Monday Morning Blues
CHENNAI: It’s 9 am on Monday. This time, It isn’t just your average working man (and woman) that’s feeling the blues. After an action-packed first week, the Chennai Metro Rail is feeling it too on a hot, sultry Monday morning. From Koyambedu to Alandur, the number of commuters who rode the line and stood at the stations was woefully low, as few office goers chose to use the swanky new transport option. So much so that the security, scanning and ticketing staff were visibly brightened to see passengers walk up and make enquiries.
At Koyambedu Metro Station, the beginning of the line to Alandur, barely 15 people stood around the station as the monitors flashed the message that the next train would arrive in nine minutes. “I took it last Thursday to work,” said Nirmala Savithri, who works in a packaging firm in the TVK Industrial Estate in Guindy, “It was fast and neat and clean and all, but it just doesn’t make sense for me,” she declared. Why? Because her husband needed to drop her here from their home in Mogappair and she needed to take an auto from the Ekkattuthangal station, “It’s a muhurtham day today so there will be plenty of wedding traffic today, so I’m using it. Until the prices come down I don’t think I can afford it except in extreme circumstances,” she concluded.
Ironically, even after a week, a large number of the few but faithful who gave the metro line some patronage turned out to be joyriders. The office crowd was miniscule, sticking out from the ‘tourists’ with their conspicuous backpacks, lunch satchels and slick formal clothes. “I find it okay because I need to get to Tamarai IT Park in Guindy without sweating too much. This works for me but the walking is a little annoying. Many of my colleagues feel that it is easier to drive than park their cars in the sun. So no one joined me for the second time today. I doubt it will become a regular habit until the parking lot is covered,” said Nirmal Kumar, IT employee.
CMBT, MMDA and Vadapalani stations saw slim pickings too with Alandur seeing a bit more traffic - visibly evidence pointing to the fact that these were people trying the metro out and not people trying to develop a travel habit. “Perhaps when the other lines come in, I may consider it, but even then I prefer direct buses or trains and changing around is just as annoying as taking a car through traffic,” said Sriram Perumal, marketing executive who lives in Rajakilpakkam but works in Ashok Nagar.