Naga Chokkanathan

Finally, we have the “Namma Metro”. Bangalore’s newest attraction!

Of course, as of now “Namma Metro” covers only 6 stations, and it is considered more a ‘fun ride’ than anything else. Hopefully they will extend this to cover places like Majestic Bus Stand / Railway Station, Airport, Malleswaram, Ulsoor, Jayanagar, Koramangala, Electronic City, ITPL etc., sooner or later.

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Even with 6 stations, Bangaloreians are all excited about Metro. I travelled all the way to Trinity Circle to ‘experience’ this ride. I just took the tickets to the next station (Halasooru) and returned immediately.

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Actually, “Namma Metro” has no tickets, they have tokens and smart cards. It is really a 100% paper-less operation. Probably the first one I am seeing in India. (May be Delhi Metro is also paper-less, but I haven’t seen it yet).

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Metro tokens look like chocolate flavored biscuits Winking smile A bit too dark for my taste. But they work well, all the travel details are recorded in them and they act as entry passes / exit passes in relevant stations (Similar to swipe cards we have in offices). Ticket / Token / Travel cost is Rs 10 minimum and 2 Rupees extra for every station further.

This is a very reasonable price for Bangalore. Here Auto rikshaws charge Rs 10 Per kilometer and Taxis charge 50% and odd more. A/C Buses are also expensive, except for long travels. Non A/C Buses are slightly cheaper than Metro.

However, Metro seems to be having plans to counter the ‘bus’ threat. They are selling Smart cards for 10, 20, 40, 100 travels with significant discount (~20%). Also, they sell daily passes for Rs 70/- (Non A/C) and Rs 110/- (A/C) which can be used for unlimited travel in any metro trains / buses. This will be a killer deal, when Metro is well connected.

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As of now, Metro stations are clean, cleaner, cleanest (By Bangalore standards). Also, they are HUGEEEE. I can’t stop thinking when is the last time I saw so much of open space in Bangalore.

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Also, these stations are well staffed. In each platform you find at least two security people using their whistles to ensure nobody goes near the platform edge. That  is a good safety measure, but after couple of minutes, it becomes irritating.

In fact, when you are entering the Metro station itself, they check you twice (Why?) in Airport style. Can they do it when the stations become fully operational and busy? I doubt it.

These stations have ATMs, Mobile Charging Points, Water, Lift and many other basic facilities. But no shops yet. Announcements are in English, Hindi and Kannada.

As of now, Metro trains run in two routes (MG Road to Bypanahalli and Bypanahalli to MG Road) and trains are available every 5 or 6 minutes. A huge electronic display board says when the next train is expected and how many minutes you have to get ready.

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“Namma Metro” is very girlish in design (pink pink everywhere!). I couldn’t guess how many coaches it has. It looked like 2.5 (two big coaches and a small one). and a tiny driver coach is there in the front, I saw two people there. Not sure if they really drive, or there just in case automatic mechanism fails.

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Both the trains I travelled were very crowded and no seats were available. Bangalore is yet to get used to automatic doors and hence lot of safety announcements (again in 3 languages, minus whistle). Additionally there are TV screens which display the route, next station and lots of Tourism Advertisements in between.

Journey from Trinity Circle to Halasuru (and the other way) took just 3 minutes. I am sure on road it would have taken at least 15 minutes, which is the prime USP for “Namma Metro”.

As many Bangaloreians haven’t seen Metro yet, almost everyone inside the train were clicking pictures, taking videos etc., that they could share with their friends and family. Or may be, they plan to blog about this experience, like this post!

***

N. Chokkan …

24 10 2011

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1 Response to "Namma Metro"

missing bangalore 😦

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