In the absence of good pavements, city residents will have a tough time reaching MRTS and CMRL stations in the future

Walking along 100-feet Road without discomfort, during peak hours, may turn into a big challenge soon. In just six months, this corridor, from Koyambedu to Alandur, will proudly bear Chennai Metro Rail.

But operating this service may turn out to be a nearly pointless exercise if the pavements along this stretch are not fixed, for Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) expects at least 40 per cent of its commuters to walk to the stations.

In metros across the world, most commuters walk to stations rather than use vehicles to get there, say experts. So, if there are trains every 4.5 minutes during peak hours, as planned by CMRL, thousands of passengers will enter and exit the stations; this means pavements ought to be intact — with a width of 4-5 metres, and most importantly, free of obstacles — to be able to take such a load, and also, encourage commuters to walk to stations.

Not just that, good pavements will play a crucial role in helping commuters switch from Metro Rail to suburban rail or MRTS at stations like St. Thomas Mount and Central where there will be intermodal integration.

CMRL aims to particularly develop 500 metres in and around the station, and then eventually, the next 2.5 km for the convenience of commuters. Though plans are afoot to commence services as early as in October, there hasn’t been work on creating pedestrians pathways as yet.

“Discussions are on with regard to developing the pavements around the stations. We may start work on it very soon,” says an official of CMRL.

‘If only I could fly across all these vehicles’ — the thought would have crossed the minds of those stuck in traffic, sweating it out in public transport. As the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) cannot give you wings, it has, instead, tried providing dedicated lanes for its buses.

Officials retired from the erstwhile Pallavan Transport Corporation (PTC) boast of introducing the laning system much before the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) was introduced in Chennai.

According to K. Narayanan, who retired from the transport corporation as its managing director, the lane system was introduced in 1994. “Buses used to ply on the left side, cars in the middle and two-wheelers on the right side,” says Mr. Narayanan.

This system was tried on a trial basis between Wallajah Road–Anna Salai junction and Thousand Lights Mosque.

“In the next phase, we had planned to extend it till Meenambakkam. Though it was a successful model, it was discontinued for various reasons,” says Mr. Narayanan.

Even today, a dedicated lane for MTC is needed, he says.

“There are a lot of benefits. People will not have to wait for the buses as the frequency will improve. The mileage of the buses will improve, more trips can be operated and this will improve vehicle utilisation and eventually increase the revenue. There will be no overtaking and this will help reduce accidents. Buses will halt at the stops,” he says.

However, transport experts feel it is impossible as there is a dearth of supervisors. “Staff should be deployed on the route to monitor the buses. But there is a shortage of manpower now,” says an expert.

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