Wednesday was a red-letter day for the city of Hyderabad. It was the day that the Hyderabad Metro Rail, a decade in the making, finally opened to the public. Officials said that at least 1 lakh people travelled on the Metro on Day 1. By all accounts, the city has embraced it with not just joyriders taking the 30 km journey—the longest stretch launched at a time in the country, according to the state government—but also office goers attempting to incorporate it into their daily commute.
The journey of the project, the world’s largest public-private partnership, has not been as smooth as the 30 km ride experienced by most. The project was initiated in 2007 and in 2008, the then state of Andhra Pradesh signed the Concession Agreement with Maytas Metro Limited. Maytas was floated by Satyam Computers’ B Ramalinga Raju in what was considered a dubious venture.
Delhi Metro’s E Sreedharan reportedly called the whole project a real estate venture aimed at enriching Raju’s family. In 2009, Raju confessed to accounting fraud and stepped down from Satyam. The agreement was scrapped that year, and L&T came on board as the new partner for the Metro Project in 2010. The project was further stalled by the bifurcation of Andhra in 2014, in addition to some 200 legal hurdles. Phase 1 of the project was finally formally launched by the PM Tuesday ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a full 10 years after the formation of the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited.
While the teething troubles have been kept to a minimum so far, with helpful and well-trained staff available to help and guide commuters at every turn, it must also be noted that the 24 stations on the route are at varying stages of completion and parking facilities are not fully ready yet. Further, feeder services are nowhere near seamless at this point, begging the question of whether, having waited 10 years, waiting a few more months was out of the question. But considering how Hyderabadis have embraced the Metro since its opening, perhaps 10 years was enough.