Nothing much to talk about...

The Indian government is busy laying metro tracks, but people are not headed in that direction 

Published 3 years ago on Dec 04, 2020 2 minutes Read

At New Delhi’s Rajiv Chowk station, changing from the Blue metro line (connecting to Noida) to the Yellow one (connecting to Gurugram) is nothing short of an adventure sport. If you can successfully navigate your way through sweaty crowds and manage to grab a seat in any coach, then you might just be God’s favourite child. With the junction recording an average footfall of over 220,000 daily, pre COVID-19, you might assume that India’s metro rail story is a successful one, but you are mistaken.

According to World Resources Institute (WRI) India, most of the metro networks in the country have not met their projected daily ridership. The data analysed by WRI shows that Bengaluru’s ‘Namma Metro’ with a projected ridership of over 800,000, has reached only half the number. In Chennai, metro ridership lingers near 100,000 against the projected figure of 600,000. Similar gaps were found in Hyderabad, Kochi and Lucknow metro networks as well, with projected daily ridership of around 1.5 million, 400,000 and 200,000 respectively, while actual figures coming in at 400,000 for Hyderabad and a little below 100,000 for Kochi and Lucknow. The only exception is Mumbai Metro, which surpassed the projected estimate of 420,000 with a daily ridership of over 450,000 in 2019.

WRI attributes this shortfall to the “lack of comprehensive first- and last-mile solutions to connect homes, offices and other activity centers with metro stations”. Because, we need to get home or office, and not to the metro station. This issue can be solved by partnerships with new mobility operators providing a range of last-mile solutions such as e-scooters, motorised two-wheelers and shuttle buses. However, the success of this move depends significantly on the arrangement between the enterprises and metro rail operators.

In November, Kochi Metro Rail permitted commuters to carry their bicycles on the train, a decision that was applauded. Following this, cyclists in Chennai also requested the city’s metro rail department to allow bicycles in the coaches. Meanwhile, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority in 2019 gave its nod to a Rs.35-billion project for last-mile connectivity with the city’s metro corridors, and Delhi has been cranking up its fleet of e-rickshaws in stations across the national capital region.

Surely, things are looking up in last-mile connectivity, but newly introduced social distancing norms, limited metro service and screening guidelines due to the pandemic might slow down ridership further.