Bengaluru Metro Expansion to Satellite Towns Under Scrutiny

01 Jan 2024

The government?s pitch for extending the Namma Metro rail network to satellite towns and suburban areas has not enthused many. The question being asked is: Why take it outside the city when the core areas are unconnected? It came under the spotlight recently when deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar met Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and sought her help in getting the Centre?s nod for an extension of Namma Metro.

Sources said plans were on the anvil to extend the network to Bidadi, Hoskote, Harohalli (Kanakapura Road) and near Nelamangala on Tumakuru Road. This was followed by reports on the feasibility of adding 129km to the Metro rail network under Phase 4.

Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya fired the first salvo by describing such an extension as ?amusing?. He stated: ?Instead of accelerating work in Bengaluru?s core area, it makes no point to extend it to areas outside the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) limits when none of the 129 km of proposed length was part of the CMP (Comprehensive Mobility Plan)-2020.?

?The BMRCL has failed umpteen times to meet deadlines. It adds no value to the needs of citizens, considering the lower density of the population in the suburbs. The core area of the city should be the priority,? he said.

Concurring with him, urban mobility experts opine that instead of concentrate on expanding the Metro to suburban areas, the authorities should focus on utilising the existing rail networks and expedite the expansion of suburban rail projects. They also stressed the need for operating robust city bus services in suburban areas.

Ashish Verma, a mobility expert and convenor of IISc Sustainable Transportation Lab, said, ?BMRCL should focus on building the metro network of 317km proposed in the CMP. Metro networks in the core area are required to decongest the traffic. A suburban rail network and robust bus transport are better options to link satellite towns. Building a suburban rail network or making optimal utilisation of the existing rail network with a better integration is (more) cost-effective than building a metro network.?

He added that forming Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority and making it functional is the need of the hour to decide on building new public transport systems in the city.

Rajkumar Dugar, convenor of Citizens for Citizens, said, ?The suburban rail network being implemented by the KRIDE should be extended to towns on the outskirts of Bengaluru or neighbouring districts.?

He added the Metro project is capital-intensive. For example, a Metro network to Tumakuru could cost Rs 15,600 crore whereas the suburban rail network is likely to cost only Rs 4,500 crore.

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