CHENNAI: An average of one lakh people use the Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) operating between Beach and Velachery, every day. Yet, the stations lack feeder services, forcing commuters to either travel using their own vehicles till the station, walk till the bus stop or opt for autorickshaws. “There is no connectivity from MRTS stations to residential areas or offices at Mylapore, Thiruvanmiyur or Kasturba Nagar. At Velachery station, auto drivers charge exorbitant prices even for short distances. Despite repeated appeals, neither the Railway department nor the state government has taken any action,” wrote Narayanan Mahadevan, a resident of Mylapore, to CE.
At peak hours, the end-to-end trip from Velachery in the city’s southern suburbs to Chennai Beach takes just 40 minutes by MRTS. However, the patronage is only one lakh against the projected five lakh. “Lack of integration with other modes of transport, unsafe stations and parking lots, the remote location of the stations, and most importantly, lack of access are the reasons behind poor patronage. Addressing the issue of accessibility has the potential to boost the footfall in a short period,” said Sainath Gangadharan, a regular MRTS user.
Concurring, Alekhya Rao, another commuter, said, “Travelling till the station in our vehicles is not even an option because the parking lots are dark, dingy and unsafe. There have been several instances of theft and harassment in the parking area. Feeder services can enhance safety.” When the project was conceived in 1984, it was decided that the route will run along Cooum river for the most part of its length.
This was chosen to avoid problems of land acquisition as the rail line passes through the congested parts of the city. According to government documents, the planners overlooked the location of the stations. Due to the alignment, users at all the stations are forced to walk long distances in the absence of proper connectivity to reach the stations. Officials could not be contacted for their response on the issue.