Ride out of reach, workers term Metro service elitist

High cost of tickets, lack of last mile connectivity, and accessibility for senior citizens discourage workers from the unorganised sector from using the CMRL for their daily commute, finds Nirupa Sampath
A Metro station in Chennai
A Metro station in Chennai

CHENNAI: Despite putting in all efforts to increase ridership since 2015, the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) is yet to reach people of all economic status, especially those working in the unorganised sector.

Though the CMRL managed to garner dedicated commuters in the last seven years, it has massively failed to tap those in the unorganised sector.

Koyambedu resident T Kowsalya, working as a housekeeper in Kilpauk for Rs 11,000, said, “Because I was curious about the Metro, I travelled once in 2018. With my salary, I cannot afford the fare every day. So, I mostly take the bus or share-auto for work.”

Meanwhile K Ravindran, a painter who has never travelled in the Metro, said he’d prefer Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) due to cost and being user-friendly.

Veni Thyagaraju, coordinator of Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam, explained why. “Most domestic workers, daily wagers and others in the unorganised sector believe that the Metro caters more to the upper middle-class and IT professionals. This is because of the high cost of tickets compared to other modes of public transport,” she said. “A daily wager would prefer to commute in MRTS, buses or even share-autos daily than spend Rs 20 for a 5-km destination. Plus, the hassle of last-minute connectivity, which the CMRL does not provide is a challenge for many.”

According to CMRL data, since January 2022, nearly 3.01 crore passengers have taken the Metro trains. And in July alone, 53.17 lakh passengers travelled in the train, showing a gradual increase in ridership over the past few months.

Subsequently, regular Metro commuters who opt for the transportation due to minimum travel time, better travel experience

A daily wager would prefer to commute in MRTS, buses or even share-autos daily than spend Rs 20 for a 5-km destination — Veni Thyagaraju, coordinator, Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam

and for reasonable experience urge CMRL for more facilities.

M Harish, working at a communication firm, said, “City Metro stations are still not user-friendly, especially for the elderly population. Senior citizens are constantly anxious if they’ve boarded the right train and/or confused about the platform the trains would arrive. They’re often seen checking with fellow passengers and being jittery throughout their ride. Hence, CMRL should put in more sign boards and ask for feedback from passengers.”

In addition to high ticket price and difficulty in navigating through the station, lack of parking space and last-minute connectivity are still major drawbacks.

Harish, who rides from Alandur to Teynampet via the Metro, urged for aggressive promotion at stations that have high passenger footfall. “There are no luggage racks inside the train to place our luggage, which takes up more standing space. Such basic and vital facilities must be installed,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, K Gayathri, working at a firm in Nandanam, spends Rs 50 per day for travelling in the Metro. “Of course, I’m satisfied with the service and there is definitely scope for more. But they also do a good job too. I lost my travel card at Alandur station,” she recalled. “When I informed about it to the employees there, they issued me a new card immediately from the bill I showed them. Most of the time, such basic services are not ensured everywhere.”

CMRL was not available for comments.

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