The missing link: last-mile connectivity dogs Chennai Metro

Experts call for a mix of transport options with a common ticketing system

A decade ago, when the planning for Chennai Metro began, it was claimed that it would improve mobility in the city and pull in all commuters by encouraging them to give up private vehicles and switch to public transport. Over the last four years of operations, there has been a gradual increase in the number of people taking the Metro, yet it stands at only about 95,000 a day.

Experts and commuters believe one of the predominent reasons why Chennai Metro still doesn’t have enough takers is the lack of last-mile connectivity options. Even though Chennai Metro has brought in cycles, share cars, share autos and mini buses at many stations, not all stations are equipped to take commuters to their doorstep.

Mahalakshmi Varadharajan, a resident of Vadapalani, who takes the Metro to her workplace in Ekkatuthangal on a daily basis, said it was particularly gruelling to walk from the station to her office in the heat. “They should give us multiple options like share autos and buses from every station, so that a passenger can choose whatever she wants. Most people want to take public transport like the Metro because it is convenient, but the authorities need to ensure that we have connectivity till the doorstep, and that is what will encourage everyone to switch from private vehicles to public transport,” she added.

Experts agree that there should be a good number of mini buses, apart from share autos, share cars and cycles. There are a host of issues related to last-mile connectivity that need to be fixed if the Metro aims get more passengers, they add.

Frequent bus services

K. P. Subramaniam, an urban planning expert, said each station should have an adequate number of buses with excellent frequency and the buses should necessarily cover about 3-4 km in and around every station. “The bus stations should be moved closer to Metro stations so that the walk is only about a minute or two long for the passengers. Timings of the buses and the trains should be coordinated in such a way that as soon as a commuter gets off the train, he should get a bus in about five minutes,” he added.

K.N. Krishnamurthy of the Indian Roads and Transport Development Association said: “The Common Ticketing System — where a travel card can be used for several modes of transport — is crucial for any good transportation system to take off. They should be able to use the same travel card in share autos, share cars or mini buses, so that travel is seamless. A commuter will be put off if he has to wait or walk for long to change modes of transport,” he added.

A professor of IIT Madras, on condition of anonymity, said it would help to conduct user behaviour surveys to understand the needs of the commuters in terms of last-mile connectivity to optimally plan to tackle them. Allowing minimal elevation changes between last-mile connectivity modes and the train platform can further encourage the use of the system. For the newer lines, Chennai Metro could consider at-grade stations too.

According to officials of the Chennai Metro Rail Limited, there is plan to run share autos and share cars at all 32 stations, so that all of them offer last-mile connectivity.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:12:43 PM |

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