Lengthwise the capital extends up to 60 km. With a population of one crore, 80 lakh motorised trips a day and three lakh vehicles adding each year, Hyderabad, which will be the common capital for the next decade for both Telangana and A.P., is in for a major transit logjam in the absence of a good and reliable public transport, say urban planners and senior officials.
Though phase one of the elevated metro rail construction is underway in three of the dense traffic corridors (see graphic), they point out that unless the ground rail based Multi-Modal Transit System (MMTS) and buses (see box) are improved and each other’s functioning is coordinated effectively, commuting could be tiresome and even nightmarish. It is estimated that 40 per cent of the motorised trips in the twin cities is catered to by the current ‘beast of the burden’ APSRTC buses and another two per cent by the MMTS run by the South Central Railway (SCR). Ideally, the number of motorised trips by public transport for any Indian city should be in the range of 60 per cent, says N.V.S. Reddy, Managing Director, Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR).“We are facing traffic issues with just seven out of 100 people owning cars. Unless there is tremendous improvement in public transport, the future of the city is scary. As the country’s economy gets better, there will be more private vehicles on the road unless reliable public transport is provided,” he says, also a formerly Project Director of MMTS.
Even if there is a slowdown for a while following the bifurcation, senior officials explain that investments will flow into cities providing better living conditions among which providing for better public transport also counts.
“The Telangana Government should redouble efforts to regain the city’s pre-eminent position as it is the region’s sole engine of growth for a considerable future. It should also be remembered that two new States will be competing for investments,” they aver.
K. Dhananjaya Reddy, Arogyasri CEO, who was closely associated with the city’s master plan and also the comprehensive transport plan in his role as GHMC’s Additional Commissioner for planning & projects, calls for strengthening the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA).
“Public transport plays a critical role in any city’s development. UMTA has to be brought out into a statutory act with proper funding with railways, APSRTC, civic bodies such as GHMC, HMDA, HMR and others as equal stakeholders,” he says.
Having witnessed the lack of coordination between RTC and MMTS services, HMR has decided to have its own mini-buses to scour around colonies in and around its stations elevations as feeder bus connection to ensure the last mile connectivity.
“Pedestrians safety and good public transport are inter-connected as ridership will go up. We are sure that once the metro rail proves its efficiency, even car owners will shift as it had happened in Delhi,” claims Mr. Reddy. When fully operational, metro is expected to carry 15 lakh passengers a day, estimated to go upto 25 lakh passengers in a decade.
While phase one of the metro rail project is in for a critical phase with trial runs about to commence in the first stage of the project between Nagole and Mettuguda after summer, construction is apace in different sections by the concessionaire, L&T Metro Rail in corridor one, two and three despite bottlenecks all along.
First phase became operational in mid-2003 but it is beset with frequency issues, long time lags between trains, lack of bus connectivity, stations upkeep, security and the likes though it carries more than 1.5 lakh passengers a day across three routes. Phase two will connect suburbs like Medchal, Moula Ali, Ghatkesar, Umdanagar (Shamshabad), Malkajgiri and so on by doubling and electrification of existing lines and laying new lines. After years of delay, Railways had finalised a firm for works worth up to Rs.875 crore last year. Alas, just when the work was to commence, the consortium’s foreign partner walked out. Senior officials are unanimous that a separate company should be formed to run MMTS and to exploit the commercial space at railway stations, link it up with bus services and improve the efficiencies.