The stations and the trains turned into veritable picnic spots

Thrilled Bangaloreans on Thursday turned up in their thousands to experience their first ride on Namma Metro, which promises to change commuting in the city.

All roads led to the six metro stations on the inaugural day. The young and the old, students and professionals, women in trousers and burqas, children and grandchildren, they were all there to witness the marking of a new milestone in the city's history. Predictably, there was a crazy rush at all the stations, and inside the trains. The M.G. Road and Byappanahalli stations were decked up like wedding halls.

Palpable excitement

Beaming with excitement, people from far and near braved the sun and queued up at the stations at least three hours ahead to buy tickets. Long lines snaked alongside the stations with people cheerfully confessing they took half a day off work for the inaugural ride that took off at 4 p.m.

It was not just those who lived or worked along the stretch of Reach 1 that thronged the stations. Some even came from Arkalgud, Gubbi and Hoskote.

From nearby villages

H.R. Anantaramaiah, a retired headmaster from HVGS School in Arkalgud, said: “I had read about metro rail being a successful mode of public transport in other countries and wanted to see how it works.” P Gurudissappa, a 51-year-old arecanut dealer from Hoskote, was proud that he was one of the first to buy a ticket at the Byappanahalli station.

Shivalingaiah, an agriculturist from Gubbi, turned up with a gang of friends from his village. “Paperalli odidde Bangalorealli city railu bidtarae anta. Addakke nodakke bande.” (I had read in the newspaper that Bangalore is getting a city rail system. So I came to see it.)

Kamalesh Pareek, a software professional from J.P. Nagar, who came with his four-year-old daughter Nehal, said he could not wait.

It was a day out not just for the common man. Joint Commissioner of Police (CAR) B.N.S Reddy was on the second train from Byappanahalli with five of his family. When asked if he would take the train every day, he laughed and said: “I cannot. But those working in the central business district will find it very useful.”

As expected, tickets sold like hot cakes. At the Indiranagar station, within an hour of the service opening to the public, close to 100 cards and 500 tokens were sold.

As expected, there was the usual confusion. “How long can we stay inside the station?” “How far can one token or one swipe of the smart card take us?” “Can't we continue the journey without getting off the train at the last stop?” were some of the FAQs.

Customer care executives had a lot of talking to do as they patiently answered umpteen queries from passengers. This despite the stations being equipped with several display boards.

The other staff had to ensure that the giddy gathering did not get out of hand. There was thorough checking at the entry points to the platforms where people and baggage were screened.

Children's day out

As a visibly tired policeman pointed out, it was nothing short of a picnic spot. The ones enjoying the most were children, quite a few of whom were accompanied by grandparents. Dolly Sen, all of five, piped up: “I want to come every Sunday.”

At the end of Day 1, some 60,000 Bangaloreans had an unforgettable ride and the ticket kitty was richer by Rs.4 lakh.

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