THE SUNDAY STORY Many Indian cities are building high-capacity urban rail. But they don’t have all the links in place.

Sowmiya Ashok writes from New Delhi

Gurnam Singh with a taxi stand in Dwarka Sector-12 can hardly manage to send out two to three cars today, half the number from three years ago. Previously, customers would want to be dropped off in Gurgaon, Connaught Place and Noida. But ever since the Delhi Metro rolled out across the National Capital Region, Mr. Singh finds the going tough.

A perception survey of 8,000 respondents done by the Institute for Human Development for Delhi Human Development Report 2013 found the Delhi Metro was a welcome addition to the Capital’s transport landscape and the cleanest. Women commuters gave the ladies compartment the thumbs-up. Dwarka resident Devarchana Khuntia was felicitated in January by Delhi Metro for being among the top ten smart card users to have spent over Rs.15, 000 last year.

Ms. Khuntia tried car pooling for a couple of weeks with colleagues but it was difficult commuting long distances. But she says overcrowding is the most disliked part of the Metro. What is more frustrating is the total lack of connectivity between her house and the Metro station. Riders have two choices — spend Rs. 100 per day on autorickshaws or drive a car to the metro station and park it there. “I don’t see any feeder buses near where I live and the mini-vans are extremely unsafe for women,” she says. The feeder buses with fare structures on a par with Delhi Transport Corporation buses lack basic features, are always crowded and often delayed.

Delhi’s Achilles heel: Poor last mile link to Metro stations, making it difficult for people to switch to public transport.

Anil Kumar Sastry writes from Bangalore

An average of 125 cars and 250 two-wheelers are parked every day at the Byappanahalli Terminal of Namma Metro by commuters for a short journey of 6.7 km up to Mahatma Gandhi Road. This is indication enough, say the authorities of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd that a substantial number of private vehicle users will shift to these trains once the full 42.3 km stretch of Phase 1 of the project becomes operational.

BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola said even at present the average daily ridership is over 20,000. Upon completion of Phase 1, it is expected to touch one million a day.

Advantages: Namma Metro passes through some of the densest areas and with Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation bus service integration, seamless multi-modal public transport is possible. Fares will be set keeping BMTC fares in mind.

Savings: In 2003 for Phase 1 total savings (direct and indirect) was pegged at Rs. 1,300 crore a year (at petrol price of Rs. 55 a litre). Today, savings would more than double.

V. Geetanath reports from Hyderabad

Hyderabad Metro Rail progress is a silver lining amid the bitter political battle being fought over Hyderabad in the Telengana tussle.

A little over a year since the first pier surfaced on the third corridor of Nagole and Shilparamam (28.51 km), work pace by L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad has been decent. Piers and viaduct have come up on Corridor One of 28.87 km (from L.B. Nagar to Miyapur), while it is just pier work for now at Corridor Two of 14.78 km (from Falaknuma to Jubilee Bus Station, Secunderabad).

The elevated metro is estimated to cost Rs. 14,143 crore and cover 72.16 km across three routes, connecting the core with the suburbs. On completion by mid-2017, it is expected to carry 15 lakh riders a day, rising to 25 lakh in 10 years.

Seventy three-coach trains are expected to run at a speed of 35 kmph with a frequency of five to 10 minutes, says Hyderabad Metro Rail Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy.

“It will be a major shift in commuting. Most riders will be private vehicle owners, up to 70 per cent, while 30 per cent will be from other modes like buses,” says Mr. Reddy.

HMR is a ‘high density project’ slated to carry up to 60,000 passengers per hour in peak direction with each three-car train equipped to handle 1,000 passengers per trip.

Later, the trains will have six cars with the capacity to carry 6,000 passengers per trip.

Tariff: Cheapest at Rs.8 to Rs.19, efficient and fastest mode of public transport.

John L. Paul reports from Kochi

The 25-km-long Aluva-MG Road-Pettah Kochi Metro would reduce road traffic by up to 70 per cent, since many people who commute by cars, two-wheelers and autorickshaws are expected to make a shift. With increase in fuel price, the system would bring relief, says Elias George, MD, Kochi Metro Rail Limited.

Life saver: It can save at least 20 lives and prevent grievous injuries to 100 people every year, even if only 10 per cent of commuters shift. Every year, nearly 150 people die in road accidents in Kochi, while 1,400 suffer grievous injuries.

Time saver: Aluva/Tripunithura to MG Road by road takes 1.5 hours during peak hours. The two stretches can be covered in 30 minutes and 15 minutes respectively by Metro.

KMRL is exploring the feasibility of new urban water routes that would complement the Metro. Kochi’s Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA) is striving to seamlessly integrate different modes of transport.

Parking lots attached to Metro stations can accommodate about 1,000 cars and 5,000 two-wheelers; a few bus stops are to be relocated closer to Metro stations.

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