The good news is that 33,000 people are taking the metro trains. In comparison, whereas 3,500 MTC buses transport 55 lakh people daily and add the suburban metro rail network figures (1.2 million passengers daily), CMRL no doubt cuts a sorry figure.
Indeed, only a little over half of the 45km network is in operation in the CMRL. Nevertheless, CMRL would have an uphill task if it were to emerge as a viable transport mode in the metropolis.
Even going by its own market survey, CMRL’s footfall would only peak by 2024-25. Even CMRL experts fear that their trains would not run jampacked like the Delhi Metro, which achieved maximum patronage in half the predicted time.
CMRL officials fear that a strong bus and suburban train network could be their deterrent. “Unlike in north, the public transport infrastructure in the south, especially bus connectivity in Chennai is very good. Hence, it would be highly competitive,” conceded a senior CMRL officer requesting anonymity.
In fact, they were quite vocal in admitting that cost and connectivity wise, MTC and suburban trains have an edge over the sophisticated metro trains.
Even the airport link, metro officials fear, would not be an impetus to CMRL. “Studies have shown that airport connectivity does not really contribute much to increasing metro rail patronage. Apart from comfort, speed, punctuality and above all reliability would be our mantras of success. We were the only service to go unhindered during December 1 rains and Cyclone Vardah,” a CMRL senior noted.
Underground Metro will run till water level reaches 1.6 metre height on city roads.
Regarding the underground section, and that too in a city where flooded roads and inundation are a given, CMRL chief general manager V K Singh told during the recent inauguration that the metro would not be disturbed until the water level on the roads reached 1.6 metre height.
“Metro is extremely important for a modern city like Chennai. It should make a very good attempt to integrate with existing system.
Once the Delhi Metro also had this problem. Even more successful systems are well integrated with other systems. If a bus or train or taxi is readily available for a traveller stepping out of the metro station, he would be encouraged to take the metro.
Some feeder service should be available. Physical integration plus IT enabled services like SMART card for integrated multi modal transport should be available too because people don’t like to wait in queue. If Ola and Uber can do, why cannot metro? Metro is beautiful and good. Concerted efforts should be there to integrate all modes of transport,” said a transport planner in the city requesting anonymity.