news Monday, June 29, 2015 - 05:30
  Over six years since work on the Chennai Metro rail first began, the first 10 km stretch of the Chennai Metro from Koyambedu to Alandur was opened to public on Monday.   Amidst considerable excitement, made palpable from the strong turnout on the Metro’s first day, many who rode Chennai’s brand new public transport today feel that the costs for travel are on the steeper side.   For now, the 10 km stretch between Koyambedu and Alandur costs Rs 40, just the one way. But for many excited first-time commuters gathered there, the idea of paying that much on a regular basis is not too appealing.   Jambulingam, aged 62 from Tambaram, says that he came to experience the Metro Rail, but might not able to do it regularly. “It’s too costly. For travelling 10 km, Rs. 40 is too much,” he says.     V Rama Rao, Director , Traffic and Transportation Forum, Nanganallur, a Chennai-based NGO, however felt that in comparison to Delhi, the prices were steeper in the city. “In Delhi, the train costs range between Rs. 6 and Rs. 14", he said.   The cost of a metro-ride crossing 12 stations, taking 28 minutes and travelling a distance of 12.750 km from Adarsh Nagar to Rajiv Chowk in Delhi costs Rs 18, says the Delhi Metro Rail website. The Bangalore Metro Rail on the other hand charges Rs. 17 for a 6.7 km stretch, which translates to about Rs. 25 for a 10 km.   Being an NGO that has earlier been consulted by the Southern Railway for other works, Rao says that though they were called upon by CMRL officials for discussions on issues like connectivity and the viability of the upcoming stations, the issue of price was not taken up.   "In the meeting we had with the CMRL last year, we told them that the prices were high. But the topic was never brought up again," he says, “Technology should not prevent a class of people from travelling in a train. Everyone should be allowed to travel."     First day hiccups The first day excitement of taking a long-awaited ride on the Metro was shared by many. Despite being a weekday, the crowd was in good attendance, with long queues lined up both at the automatic vending machines as well as the regular card issue counter.   After the first ride flagged off at 12. 15 pm, predictable slip-ups prevailed with confused commuters in a disarray over directions from and to the railway platforms. However, well-placed CMRL officials responded with clarity to eager questions from travellers.   “We just wanted to go on the Metro because it was the first day. We usually will not use it for regular travel as its away from my workplace,” said Shanthi from Chrompet who came along with her husband and sister.   "It’s brilliant," says 72 year-old P Rajendra Kumar, who travelled alone on the Metro. “You cannot expect to travel from Koyamebu to Alandur ( considering distance and peak traffic) in just 15 minutes, “ he said about the service which is bound to bring respite to commuters dealing with Chennai's snarly traffic on a regular basis.   For a project that started in 2009, the Metro has had its own shares of ups and downs. Taken up and first conceived during the DMK rule, it was said to be a pet-project of its treasurer, MK Stalin . In 2007, the DMK led TN state government then made a Rs. 50 crore allotment for a proposal to implement the Metro Rail project. Construction then began in June, 2009.   After years of construction, the inauguration is said to have seen further delays due to the political situation of the state following Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's conviction in the disproportionate assets case.   The Metro will stretch further by 45 km with two main lines, the Blue Line and the Green Line. While Koyambedu-Alandur stretch comes under the Green Line, the Blue Line which has an extension runs from Washermenpet to Chennai Airport.