Experts, however, stress the need for feeder services, better pedestrian facilities around Metro stations, and competitive shopping options

The countdown has begun. By the end of October, Chennai Metro will zip through the city’s corridors, from Koyambedu to Alandur.

Instead of a painful, sweaty, 45-minute ride to traverse this near 10-km stretch on the city’s bottlenecked roads, you may want to opt for Chennai Metro that promises to cover the distance in just about 20 minutes.

Steps are afoot to speed up the construction of stations along this corridor, said an official of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL).

“At stations such as Koyambedu, CMBT and Arumbakkam, the structural work and installation of lifts and escalators are complete. Now, work on the interiors is rapidly progressing at these stations,” said the official.

At other stations such as Ashok Nagar, Ekkatuthangal and Alandur, structural work is complete but the installation of lifts, escalators and other interior work is on, he said.

But it may not be enough to merely complete the construction of stations, said experts. Several other elements associated with the running of Metro Rail have to be in place before it takes off.

CMRL expects 40 per cent of its commuters to be pedestrians. So, if the footpaths in and around the stations continue to be in a dismal state, commuters may not want to walk up to the stations.

Officials said they have held discussions with the Chennai Corporation and plan to start work on it soon.

“Feeder buses should run along this corridor, covering the interior areas, as soon as Metro Rail starts functioning. We cannot have feeder buses introduced at a later point in time,” said V. Subramanian of Traffic and Transportation Forum.

But it is not clear if feeder buses will become operational as and when the Metro Rail service begins.

However, people commuting on this stretch may see a marked improvement in mobility. But that does not mean we will get rid of traffic congestion, said K.N. Krishnamurthy, chairperson of Integrated Road and Transport Development Association.

“Feeder services and improved footpaths apart, they should have competitive shopping facilities by the time the services begin. If they don’t have these facilities, Metro Rail could end up being another MRTS,” he said.