Everybody is looking forward to the Metro in Chennai. Everybody says it is THE SOLUTION to the traffic problem.
However from what it looks currently I see the Metro being more of destructive and possibly will not live up to the Hype it has created.
First the destructive part – Metro has caused many trees to be cut, many parks laid barren – surprising part is that though Metro was planned since 2006/07, the said Lakhs were spent on providing facilities in parks that were now destroyed for Metro construction. If the officials knew the parks would be taken over why did they spend so much public money on these parks. Was it yet another method to mint money for the officials, politicians & contractors? Do cheap work and get away with it since anyway the work will be destroyed and nobody can verify the quality?
Metro has destroyed many public property & public utility properties but has not touched private commercial properties – prime example being Udayam Theatre near Ashok Pillar & the AG Church in Little Mount. In both cases nearby public properties like ESI Hospital & Public Community Hall (near Udayam Theatre) and corporation school premises (Near AG Church) were taken over for Metro Construction while ensuring no interference to these buildings.
In Saidapet the bus stand near the river has been flattened and the subway closed. I am unable to find a reason for closure of the subway especially when Metro officials say they will reconstruct it after the completion of the project!!! Is it yet another way to mint money by showing something has been done but which ultimately does not add value?
On the hyped up usability part, I think people are again missing the point on public transportation. Most of the stations will be bang on the busiest roads in Chennai and they will not have adequate parking facilities , if any. Most people who travel by public transport will either walk to the station (if it is less than 500m from their residence/office) or use their 2-wheelers to reach the nearest station. One of the plus points of the suburban train network is the availability of 2-wheeler parking facility at stations (this is also in decline). This enables a commuter to come to the station on his personal vehicle and then take the train for longer distance commuting. However in Metro this will not be possible except for a few stations. This immediately reduces the catchment area for the metro usage. Given past experience we know MTC will not run buses to these stations from nearby localities unlike in most other cities/countries. So commuters will be left to the mercy of auto-rickshaws and share-autos who will fleece them and also cause traffic jam near the stations by indiscriminately parking on the road and blocking the through-way.
Also the fare in Metro will be considerably higher than the Bus Fares & Sub-urban Train service/MRTS. This itself will bring lower the demand for the services.
Avoid destruction of public property – give advance notification in case where destruction is unavoidable so that no fresh construction/upgrade is done to those buildings.
Avoid cutting trees – statements that we will plant 10trees for every tree cut are useless as we all know that even if the trees are planted no one will care of them and they will never grow into big trees. Transplant Trees even if it cost more.
Discuss with State Government & MTC – ensure that adequate feeder bus services from your catchment area to each station are provided. Think of Feeder services as part of Metro itself.
Idea behind Metro and such big public transport project is to reduce private vehicles on road.
Hopefully more level headed public minded people will be involved in Metro construction that we start seeing the benefits part of it.