Bangaloreans turned up in their thousands on Thursday to celebrate the beginning of what everyone hoped will be seamless travel without traffic jams. It was all happening at once — excitement, chaos, confusion and, yes, people taking a tumble.
VIP misses ride
Namma Metro proved that it waits for no one, not even Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa. The Minister was conspicuous by his absence during its inaugural run in the morning. It later emerged he had to attend a function at Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) complex earlier and could not make it on time. He managed to make it to the launch function though.
Autos at it again
Autorickshaws made a killing as they always do during mega events. With the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) yet to fully put in place its feeder services, first-time travellers were forced to endure the agonising wait for an auto that would take them back home.
On M.G. Road, where a majority of the passengers were either ending or starting their trial rides, autos were far and few. Those that were there simply refused to go or demanded hefty fares. Several people ended up walking to nearby bus stops, ending their exciting day on a bitter note.
Parking too remained a tricky issue, with the traffic police relaxing the rules on D-Day. Barring the Byappanahalli Station, where the provision for parking is almost complete, vehicles were parked randomly in bylanes around the stations.
BEML, which has supplied some of the metro coaches, had made arrangements for refreshments for first-time visitors. As people emerged from the stations, they were gifted a cloth bag containing biscuits, water, sev and a toffee. Similarly, newspapers distributed free copies of the day's edition to passengers.
Civic sense? Sigh!
The decorations, painstakingly done by Namma Metro staff, did not last long. Naughty children burst the balloons that cheerfully complemented the colourful cloth decorations. Some doting parents even pulled out some balloons to indulge youthful whines. Flower decorations lay in tatters, leaving one wondering if the metro train would meet the same treatment from its users.
The excitement of riding an escalator proved too much to contain for some travellers. At the Byappanahalli Station, the loaded escalator was stopped abruptly as someone slipped right at the beginning. There were a few anxious moments as those at the top of the escalator were wondering if the person was injured. Moments later, all was declared fine and the ride resumed.
A long day for the police
It was a busy day for the city police. As the day progressed, more and more Bangaloreans thronged the metro stations. The energy levels of the passengers increased while that of the cops plummeted. One policeman at M.G. Road, looking fit to drop, confessed wearily: “It has been a long day; I wonder when it's going to end.”