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Metro : Perspective

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Summary: I came across a nice article supporting Metro and I started analysing my stand where I oppose Metro unless it proven satisfactory in all dimension which are basically 

  1.  Direct Cost Involved
  2. Indirect Cost Involved
  3. Direct Savings
  4. Indirect savings

Details: 

Metro rail is big impact project which is potentially catalyst for a big change in city. Because of Metro city centers will grow in certain directions and can have positive or negative impact. Definitely this requires much more thorough analysis with latest data. 

So let us start by taking "Indirect Savings". (My intention is to induce people to think about them more carefully. )

  1. Savings on Fuel: If people use metro less people will use cars and hence people will save fuel.Exactly, this will happen but the underlying assumptions isPeople who use cars will switch to Metro. A good example is BMTC volvo buses where people from normal Buses upgraded but I have not heard any of the Car commuter shifted to Volvo. I am not saying this will happen with Metro but only comfort is not enough to get Car Users on metro. We need support system strong enough to feed metro capacity. We know how efficient/economical Bangalore Autos are today. BMTC buses will never be reliable to catch specific Metro. People will again have an inefficient system vs personal vehicle.
  2. Savings on Vehicle Purchase: This one is very good point because it is trying to impact economically. It has 2 sides because people buying less will mean less GDP and less Jobs. It helps to project Metro in one interpretation and hence lets take positive( favoring metro) impact that people will buy less vehicles.  
  3. Savings on Green House: It surely saves. By any means if people are ready to share their ride with fellow passengers it will save money. Best example is car pooling.
  4. Road Accidents: Once again people share their rides there are less vehicle and hence less accidents, probability predicts this maths.
  5. Time Savings: Time is money and yes if it saves time it is making money, more importantly giving us those scarce moments in life where we can live. 

 

There are lot of other advantages like real-estate development, job creation etc. List can go one but I feel above ones are more tangible socially. 

Now let us talk about indirect cost involved.

  1. Time: Amount of time Bangalore has spent(in jams) and will spent during the construction of Metro is high. People have to take diversion, making severe traffic jams etc. I agree it is one time cost but even when metro is complete studies suggests unless people travel more than 20 KM metro, does not save time door -to - door. If the planner of metro do not understand, people will make them understand on the first day of metro. It takes time get metro ticket, it takes time to go to Metro Rail after reaching metro station. If there are security checks ( like delhi has) it adds more time. Believe me metro stations are huge by design and it takes time to reach to train. It can be as much as 5-7 mins. After this you have to wait for metro according to frequency. Do not forget it takes time to come out of metro station as well. 
  2. Road Accidents: Near metro stations it is induced congestion and it potentially increases risk of accidents. Considering the throughput suggested for metro ( 10.2 lakh) it can be 1 lakh per hour ( rush hour will be definitely more) distributed on 10 metro stations. That is 10,000 people coming out of metro station in an hour. We know how our roads choke when a cinema or procession of 200 people move on road. I am not sure what will be done on KR Puram metro station to handle this. This extreme density increases chances of accidents exponentially. So a very intelligent system to allow people to approach or discharge from metro station is required and I am not sure if this is included in the cost. 
  3. Savings on Green House: Construction of metro has required so many tons of cement, transportation which might small compared to benefits it offers, but by no means they amount of petrol cost added to average bangalorean due to increased congestion due to bangalore Metro. If Metro takes 5 years to build , it has already added 5 years worth green house due to increased congestion today.( I do not have data to prove this and hence may not be true). Also metro station will attract induced congestion at the metro stations which will again need a support system to reduce it. Not sure if cost of it is included or will taken up later when metro is not successful. Metro runs on electricity and if the electricity generated by coal or diesel the savings on carbon credits will be less. In our power ridden country where most of business run on Diesel genrators, I feel total effective savings will be minute. 
  4. Vehicle Purchase: This is debatable issue as I pointed out earlier, govt is in no mood to give thumb down to Auto sector. If metro is able to make dent in auto sales in bangalore, govt will make policies to revive the sales (tax cut etc). Till now road widening projects, large Infra project indicates the favor to car owners where as investment to pedestrian and cyclist are least bothered. Another point which metro planners are not able to understand is that all the metro commuters will be on the "ROADS" twice (before and after coming out of metro). So how does this means less people on the road, they still need Bus/car/bike/footpath/cycle.
  5. Savings on Fuel: Construction of metro and extra fuel cost due to congestion has to counted again to prove this point. But yes as any other shared Transportation medium, Metro will save money. 

Let us think more closely on the above of these points. These indirect savings are coming at an investment ( if not cost). Investment is big fat 11000 Cr. So is it worth? Consider existing public transport system

  1. If I make BMTC buses Hybrid what will be the saving on fuel. What is the cost of doing it and what are the longterm implications. 
  2. If BMTC buses are hybrid they will be using less or no petrol and hence Carbon credits. 
  3. If people are attracted to BMTC congestion will be less. 
  4. Since buses provide better door to door time for less than 20 KM can we look in to optimizing out transportation system to reduce time taken to travel further. 

So the point is once again, have we explored all the option or just like a kid we wanted a new gimmick. Similarly if we analyse direct and indirect cost of the Metro project we will get more facts to reach better decision. Every one has calculated cost of metro 11000 cr. No one has really estimated lost cost due to disruption in daily public life and business in areas near Metro rail line. Bangalore is alive with its heart ( MG Road) gone under surgery. Very soon majestic will have the same fate.

In all I do not want to oppose metro but I do want scrutinize it till the last level of details as IT IS 11000 Cr RS INVESTMENT. This much money can do wonders and unless I am sure that Metro is that wonder I do not want Metro in bangalore. 

The most critical and sad part of thi story is that what else we tried before Metro. Did we 

  1. Try encouraging people to use Buses
  2. try to address the concerns of people for Buses.
  3. try to encourage people to walk. 
  4. Try to encourage people to Cycle. 
  5. Try to utilize any of information systems. 

If the authority who has approved metro can give answer to each of the above question in following points

  1. When did they do it?
  2. At what scale they tried it?
  3. What was the reason they inferred for the failure of the initiative?

In the end I just want to beware people to look at the money it is costing us, because in the end we are going to pay it from our pocket.

 

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