Thursday, January 18, 2018
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Some of them are created owing to poor planning at the concept stage of preparing the detailed project report

Bengaluru metro has made an impact on the travel pattern. Finally, citizens of the city will get to travel in the entire Phase I of Namma Metro after waiting for 11 years. It is slowly changing the travel pattern of citizens across the city.

While its a proud moment for Bengaluru on completion of Phase I of Namma Metro, there are several challenges that Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) has to overcome and some of them are created owing to poor planning at the concept stage of preparing the detailed project report (DPR).

Lack of inter-modal transport plan could affect mobility in the city. Lack of bus, taxi, and auto bays at metro stations have made commuters struggle to take other modes of transport after alighting the metro. The important link of providing paid parking at every metro station is affecting shifting of commuters from their private vehicles to metro. Poor integration with the city railway station, KSRTC and BMTC bus stations, and Yeshwantpur railway station, will throw-up challenges for road traffic and the traffic police in the coming days. Adding to this, accessibility to many of the metro stations is still a concern which should have been addressed at the DPR stage itself. Further, poor footpaths around metro stations, which is being addressed under TenderSure, are a matter of concern. Also, another eight to 12 months are required to finish the pending works of Phase I. If metro is set to record an anticipated five lakh footfall daily, overcrowding of metro coaches during peak hours is not going to go away. Deploying three-coach trains and not upgrading them to six coaches as Phase I is completed indicates the unpreparedness of the BMRCL and is the biggest planning mistake.

The BMRCL has to tackle further challenges to run services at a frequency of three minutes to get a headway as per the original plan. On account of these, even the expected 5 lakh ridership after opening of Phase I, citizens will face hardship. That the cost of procurement of six-car coaches for Phase I was not considered in the original estimation is surprising. Now, ₹1,500 crore is completely funded by the State government, and further, the procurement action for metro coaches for Phase II is not in place yet. Further, lack of one mobility card between BMTC, metro, and the Railways will cause more inconvenience to citizens. On the financial front, challenges before the BMRCL are many. Reducing operating losses has been a huge challenge. The State government has supported operating losses — around ₹300 crore — during the last five years, but it will be a challenge to keep funds flowing in the coming years.

Fares are being revised and focus is on non-ticket revenues as well. Repayment of long-term debt in foreign currency, against the falling rupee, is putting tremendous pressure on the finances of the BMRCL.

Even as the city celebrates the completion of Phase I, the BMRCL has to ensure Phase II is completed in the next five years without much cost overrun and with much better integration with other modes of public transport.

Courtesy: The Hindu 

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