A ride in the metro from Nehru Park to Chennai airport could cost close to Rs.70.

Underground metro line too expensive for the common man says Chennai
news Public transport Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 16:20

The metro rail is all set to open an 8km underground line in Chennai on Sunday, from Thirumangalam to Nehru park. Much publicity and criticism has shrouded this delayed project but one thing that the city's folk all seems to agree upon is  that the underground metro rail is not for the common man.

Media reports ahead of the launch of the services suggest that a ride in the metro from Nehru Park to Chennai airport could cost close to Rs 70. A metro rail official reportedly told ToI that the maximum ticket price for phase I of the underground metro rail project has been capped at Rs 70.

"It makes no sense for me to take the Metro because I can cover the same distance for lesser than Rs 20 in a bus," says R Balachander, a retired Government employee. "How can a common citizen be expected to spend over Rs 100 on travel everyday?" he asks.

When inaugurated, the underground line will connect to the already operational Koyambedu-Alandur-St Thomas Mount elevated line. Commuters can then changeover at Alandur to trains on the airport line.

"They don't seem to realise that there is also an additional expenditure of getting to the station in the first place," say Ram Prakash, a freelance cinematographer. "In Mumbai, for 13 stations they charge only Rs 40. The whole point of the Metro is to provide an alternative transport facility for the common man. This was not meant to be some luxury mode of transportation," the 25-year-old adds.

Former bureaucrat M G Devasahayam however claims that it is not fair to compare the newly opening line with the Mumbai metro. "The capital required to construct an underground metro is far more than an overhead one. Unless you have full underground network like in the capital, the fares will remain high," he explains.

Commuters in Delhi reportedly  pay Rs 10 for a distance of up to 2 km and upto Rs 50 to travel a stretch of more than 32 km. "It is pretty apparent that this underground rail is not for someone who uses public transportation on a daily basis. The Metro officials are comparing it to an Ola and Uber but they need to realise this doesn't fall under the same class," he adds.

For the same distance, an Ola Mini will reportedly charge Rs 362 while Uber charges Rs 263.

"I have no intention of using this new line," says Balachander, who often travels in that direction to meet his sister. "If I must go that side, I will take the bus as usual," he adds.

The metro rail in its existing form already has sees poor patronage. Only 9000 to 10,000 passengers use it everyday. The stations that witness the greatest footfall on the stretch are Alandur and Koyambedu with about 5,000 and 3,000 respectively, according to The Hindu.

Chief Minister J Jayalalitha launched the first phase of metro that runs between Koyambedu and Alandur in June 2015. With that, Chennai has become the sixth city in India to have metro rail systems along with Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Jaipur. The tickets for a Metro ride range from Rs 10 to Rs 40. There are five stations in the 10 km long over-head stretch, between Koyambedu and Alandur. Each train can accommodate close to 1,200 people.

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