The last mile connectivity options depend on how deep a commuter’s wallet is or how accessible the services are for them.

Accessing the Metro In Hyd last mile connectivity options rule out those on a budget
news Urban transport Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 16:12

This story is the fourth in TNM's four-part series on last mile connectivity for Metro services in south India. Read the first here, second here and third here.

Take a ride on the Hyderabad Metro and get down at any location. To reach your destination from the station, you are now presented with a few options. Do you hail an auto or book a taxi from an aggregator service? Or would you like to try the smart bikes? How about renting a scooter or an electric vehicle?

Your answer could depend on how deep your wallet is or how accessible these services are for you.

For Sabiha*, hiring a taxi to reach the JNTU station daily to take the metro to her workplace at Ameerpet is not practical on a daily basis.

“The next option for me would be to hop on a shared auto but then I might miss the train and not reach office on time,” she says. So the 27-year-old marketing manager walks over a kilometre to the JNTU metro station. After getting down at Ameerpet station, Sabiha spends Rs 40 on an autorickshaw or hails a taxi some days. “This burns a hole in my wallet,” she adds.

The Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMRL) project is being constructed by L&T Metro at a cost of Rs 18,800 crore. Phase 1 connects Miyapur to LB Nagar, Nagole to Shilparamam and Falaknuma to Jubilee Bus Station, covering 72 km. Currently, the 30 km line from Nagole to Miyapur is operational; the Ameerpet to LB Nagar stretch was supposed to open in July but has since been deferred. The project will be expanded by another 83 km, connecting Raidurgam to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad.

Tickets cost between Rs 10 for a station to station trip with a maximum cap of Rs 60.

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

Many initiatives but are they useful?

The Telangana government has launched a number of initiatives to address last mile connectivity for metro commuters, many at the Miyapur metro station, aimed at those working in the IT sector.

In November 2017, ‘smart bikes’ were launched – booking is through an app and only digital payments are accepted. Initially, 22 bikes were kept at the Miyapur station but they were later diverted to other metros.

In May, Metro India, a private firm, set up a rent a scooter facility with 200 vehicles, first at Miyapur, then at Nagole, Parade Grounds and Begumpet. Available at Rs 4 per km, again they can be booked via an app and only digital payments are accepted.

“There is a demand for these scooters, which is why we want to increase our fleet strength to 500. If a person books the scooter, they can take it home from the station and return it the next morning,” said Rajath PS of Metro India.

In June, Zoomcar launched 25 electric vehicles at the Miyapur metro station. HMRL has tied up with Power Grid who to set up the charging infra needed for these vehicles – again these can only be booked through an app on a rental basis by submitting a driver’s license and will cost Rs 40 per hour.

“The metro saves time compared to a bus but I can’t afford it every day,” said Y Satish, a 17-year-old doing his intermediate at Pragathi Junior College, Kukatpally. The youth shells out Rs 40 in a Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) bus but has to spend Rs 60 for the metro.

None of the last mile connectivity options make sense for Satish, “My entire daily travelling expense costs what all the bikes and cars at the metro stations charge by the hour. Also to use any of those services, I need a smartphone and a debit card, both of which I don’t own.”

Autos vs cab services

The first two months after the metro opened, it was raining passengers for Ramulu, who operates an illegal share auto between Kukatpally and Allwyn Colony. “Nowadays very few people use the metro,” he complains.

During the initial days of its launch, the Hyderabad metro saw passenger footfall touch one lakh on weekdays and close to two lakh on weekends. Nearly nine months later, officials are tight-lipped about the figures.

“We would require one lakh passengers a day to break even in three to four years’ time,” said an HMRL official, who refused to answer any more questions about passenger footfall.

Also read: Accessing the Metro: For Chennai, last mile connectivity remains a dream for now

Ramulu is no expert on urban transport or last mile connectivity, but he understands what is easy for commuters on a shoestring budget.

“The metro is good for long trips as it’s air-conditioned and comfortable but it makes no sense for shorter trips. A TSRTC bus can cover a 2 km stretch for Rs 7, has more frequency along the metro corridor and costs Rs 3 less for the same distance. Similarly, an auto can cut through small lanes and drop you right in front of your house,” he added.

Autorickshaws play a crucial role in addressing the last mile connectivity at stations but there are no auto stands or waiting zones for drivers. Such spots are reserved for taxi aggregator services, like Uber and Ola, who have even set up kiosks inside stations to woo metro commuters.

Lack of adequate parking space has been cited by many commuters as the reason to stick to their own wheels and avoid using the metro.

TSRTC shuttle service

The TSRTC introduced 50 shuttles buses to help with the last mile connectivity for metro users. Of the 50 buses, 29 buses were allotted to six metro station routes in the IT corridor and 21 buses to four routes connecting several residential colonies. The buses were to operate at 10-minute intervals.

“There is very low occupancy during non-peak hours. It’s a complete loss for TSRTC but we still have to do it,” said a TSRTC official.

What about UMTA?

Established for the first time in Hyderabad in September 2008, UMTA, a nodal agency for urban transportation planning, brought the GHMC, HMDA, traffic police, city police, Railways, TSRTC, Pollution Control Board and others to the same table.

But over these 10 years, the body has met just 12 times and done little to justify its existence.

The first time HMRL participated was in the sixth UMTA meeting in 2011. For the seventh and eight meeting in 2011 and 2012, the only topic discussed by HMRL was traffic management.

At the ninth meet, a coordination committee was set up between HMRL and MMTS, but that too failed to make a visible impact. Only a proposal for the metro extension to the airport was sought by HMRL in the 11th and last UMTA meet.

“The topic of last mile connectivity never came up at these meetings,” said a senior official who has access to UMTA meetings.

*Name changed  

Also read: Accessing the metro: High costs, lack of access turns commuters away in Kochi

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.