CHENNAI: Seven years after the construction of Chennai Metro Rail started in 2009, only 10 km of the 45 km stretch in the first phase is operational and over Rs 11,000 crore of the total estimated cost of Rs 14,600 has been spent.
The cost of having a Metro Rail network has been a growing concern for the Union government as well as experts, who question the feasibility of a such a mass transit system which is costing the exchequer so heavily. While the State is ready to implement the second phase of Chennai Metro, which is likely to cost the exchequer over Rs 40,000 crore, experts feel it is time that the State looks at cheaper alternatives like Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), Light Rail Transit (LRT) or high speed trams.
A transport expert on condition on anonymity said that despite the success of Metro, Delhi still had to go in for odd and even number plate exercise for private cars. Advertisements of Renault cars on Chennai Metro has agitated many people, who support people using public transport rather than private cars.
“What is the use of advertising cars on Chennai Metro when you are advocating the use of public transport like Metro?” said Ravi, a retired mechanical engineer. Interestingly, Delhi Metro has also conducted a study on the feasibility of LRT and a senior official says that this should be tried out in smaller cities.
Even a study conducted by the State government has said that light rail transit systems such as trams have the capacity to ferry 40,000 people per hour per day. The advantage is that LRT can operate in mixed traffic conditions unlike Metro rail. “They can run on regular city streets sharing road space with other traffic, as well as within dense urban areas where pedestrian traffic can be high, like city plazas or malls,” says a report by CDM Smith.
Sources reveal that the proposal for trams had been mooted in 1984 but it was rejected. However, with the study by Delhi Metro highlighting the cost-effectiveness of LRT, it is time that the government thinks of trying out this mode of transport in Chennai too.