Accessing the Metro: In B’luru, getting to the station is commuters' biggest challenge

Many commuters say that they prefer buying their own vehicles to using public transport, including Namma Metro.
Accessing the Metro: In B’luru, getting to the station is commuters' biggest challenge
Accessing the Metro: In B’luru, getting to the station is commuters' biggest challenge
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This story is the first in TNM's four part series on last mile connectivity for Metro services in south India.

Getting stuck in the unmoving Bengaluru traffic is a nightmare most residents of the city dread. For over a decade, the city has been battling horrifying bottlenecks and traffic snarls that stretch for kilometres on end, but the problem never eased.

Residents breathed a sigh of relief when the fully operational North-South and East-West metro corridors opened in the city. However, this has not provided much relief as last-mile connectivity remains a major problem.

Metro users say it’s difficult to find autos who are willing to drop them to their destination from the metro, many stretches near the metro stations are not well lit and with the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation pulling the plug on 192 metro feeder buses due heavy losses, they can’t even depend on buses any more.

The BMTC is threatening to reduce the number of feeder buses further for it feels that residents are not making optimum use of this service.

Irregular BMTC buses and expensive autos

Christopher D’Silva, a bank employee who lives in Bengaluru’s Rajajinagar, has to travel to Yeshwanthpur for work every day. He says he has to think twice before taking the metro for the buses from the Rajajinagar metro station to his house ply very infrequently.

“I have to walk to the ESI Hospital bus stop in Rajajinagar, which is five minutes away. I have to then wait for the 75H bus. I have lived in this area for four years and till now I have not been able to figure out the timings of this bus. Before the metro was built, I had to take the bus to Rajajinagar bus stop and then another bus to Yeshwanthpur. Now there is the metro, but the bus facility to get to my house from the metro station is really bad,” Christopher complains.

The infrequency of the buses forces him to take an auto to the metro station every day, which is too expensive an option. “The auto guys charge Rs 40 to got to the metro. Ola autos are not reliable and cabs are too expensive. I bought a cycle and I ride to the metro station every day. This takes me 17 minutes, but I’d rather cycle than wait for the BMTC bus or take an auto,” Christopher says.

Similarly, Katyayini Ramesh, a marketing manager and resident of Gangondanahalli in Attiguppe, says that she too faces the problem getting to and from the metro station every day.

“I work in Trinity Circle and I have to take a bus from the BCC Layout bus stop to the Vijayanagar Metro Station every day. On most days, bus number 63 comes every half an hour. Sometimes there are delays. I end up taking autos every day and it is just way too expensive,” Katyayini says.

Parking problem

Currently, there are parking spaces near the Peenya, Baiyappanahalli, Dasarahalli, Yeshwanthpur, Sandal Soap Factory, Swami Vivekananda Road, Nagasandra, Jalahalli, Mahalakshmi Layout, Magadi Road, Mysuru Road and Yelachenahalli stations. The other stations do not have parking spots and the residents say the parking fee is too high.

The parking fee is Rs 30 for four-wheelers and Rs 15 for two-wheelers for the first four hours. Subsequently, a charge of Rs 10 and Rs 5 is levied for every subsequent hour. But commuters claim that the parking charges are too high and that it is very difficult to get a parking spot in the first place.

To check the validity of the commuters claims, TNM travelled from the Indiranagar Metro Station to Baiyappanahalli. Since the buses were infrequent, the only option was to take an auto. The total cost of an auto one-way amounted to Rs 100.

We also travelled from Geetanjali Layout to Baiyappanahalli Metro Station on a two-wheeler as there were no buses that ply from this area to the metro station, and autos wouldn’t take us. The waiting time for parking the two-wheeler was 45 minutes at around 9.30 am on a weekday. The amount for parking was Rs 55 for one day as the vehicle was taken out at around 6.30 pm.

Commuters prefer buying their own vehicles

Mansi Goyal, 24-year-old techie who lives in GM Palya, says that she prefers to ride her two-wheeler to work than wait for a bus to get to the metro.

“Its dreadful to wait for a bus from GM Palya to Swami Vivekananda Road. There are only a few buses that ply this route. If we have to take the bus, we have to wait at least for 45 minutes. Autos do not enter BEML gate and come to GM Palya. Autos will charge Rs 70 to the metro station one way. I’ts better to have a two-wheeler and spend Rs 200 on petrol for a week,” Mansi says.

Just like Mansi, many techies who live in areas like GM Palya and Malleshpalya, which are located inside the BMEL Gate, find it difficult to travel to the metro and end up buying their own vehicles.

Bikes on hire

Several start-ups have entered the scene to plug this gap, by providing bicycles and bikes on hire, so people can travel to and from metro stations.

Wicked Rides has partnered with the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited and is providing a two-wheeler hiring service for commuters who have to travel a distance from the metro stations.

Sources in the company said that at least 15 commuters hire the two-wheelers in each metro station every day.

“It’s mostly during the weekends that people opt for the bike for hire service than on weekdays,” says Manish, who manages the bikes at Indiranagar Metro Station.

While some commuters know of the service, several of others had not even heard of it before.

“I did not know that there was such a service. I assumed they were bikes parked in the parking area,” says Shrishti, a 2nd year B.Com student.

When TNM asked commuters whether they knew about the bike service at seven metro stations, most of them said they heard about it for the first time.

Blame game

According to a senior BMTC official, the service was reeling under severe losses as there were no takers for the feeder bus services.

“Feeder buses ply for 8 hours every day. Each bus has to generate a revenue of Rs 8,000. But we were making only Rs 3,000-4,000 a day. We had repeatedly asked BMRCL to share the loss with BMTC, but they refused and we had to stop the feeder service for 37 routes,” the source added.

However, BMRCL officials claimed that it was not the company’s responsibility to bear the losses incurred by BMTC.

“It is BMTC’s responsibility to plug the last-mile connectivity issue. We are responsible for metro services only,” a senior BMRCL official said.

Will a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority solve the problem?

According to sources in the Urban Development Department, a draft bill proposing the formation of a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) is in its final stages. “This means that one body will control the different urban mobility services in Bengaluru. This will solve many issues, including last-mile connectivity and also the blame game orchestrated by various transport bodies. A single unified ticketing system is also in the docks so commuters don’t have to go through trouble to access public transport,” sources in the Urban Development Department said.

The draft bill is being prepared by the Infrastructure Development Corporation Karnataka Limited (iDeCK) and the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT). The constitution of a UMTA would mean that the transport services of the BBMP, BMRCL, BMTC, DULT, the Transport Department, auto rickshaws and Traffic Police will fall under one umbrella organisation.

“The bill is being modelled on the lines of Singapore's Land Transport Authority. Once the bill becomes an act, it would allow the urban transport system to become more efficient and commuter friendly,” said Mahendra Jain, Director of the Urban Development Department.

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