Of joy rides and office commutes

The joy of Metro rides is refusing to die down even after three weeks, even as commuter problems continue to crop up.

Since its inauguration, a large number of people have been taking joy rides on the Metro. Now, after about three weeks, there are those who still take fun rides, but the number of regular users is on the rise too.

Most are professionals whose office and home, both, are located near the stretch. But many use Metro along with other transport modes to connect from home to office. Pallavi Rao, a Yeshwantpur resident in her 20s, takes two buses – one from Yeshwantpur to Shivajinagar, and another from Shivajinagar to MG Road – and then rides the Metro to her office in Indiranagar. Despite this, she is a frequent Metro traveller.

Professionals Alexander and Goran Tejas travel in Metro to meet clients in Ulsoor. Pic: Navya P K

Damayanti Goel, another professional residing in Thippasandra opines, "You cannot expect public transport at your doorstep." In her 30s, Damayanti uses auto to commute the 1.5 km distance from her home to Indiranagar station. She then takes the Metro to MG Road station, and from there goes by bus to her office in Shivajinagar.

"I am fine with using three different modes of transport because my travel time and cost – both have halved now. One way travel costs me only about Rs 40 now compared to Rs 70-80 by auto earlier. Also, travel time is half an hour compared to earlier one hour," Damayanti says.

Convenience is most for those whose homes and offices are located along the Metro stretch. Yogeshwar Shenoy, in his 20s and a resident of Swami Vivekananda Road, uses Metro once in a while to commute to his office near Trinity Circle station.

"I get picked up and dropped by my office cab. When I miss the cab I can use Metro; I use it about once a week now," he says.

They are also the ones who are willing to walk short distances and abandon other modes of transport altogether. Haseen Pathan, 25, residing in Indiranagar, says that she has been doing 80% of her commute in the Metro.

"I walk about 1 km – a 15-minute walk – from my home to Indiranagar station. From MG Road station I walk to my office in Brigade Road. Even then my travel time has reduced – earlier it was about 40 minutes by auto," says Haseen.

Some alternate between using autos and Metro. Deepika H, an Ulsoor resident in her 20s, uses Metro about 2-3 times a week to commute to her office in MG Road. "The distance is small and it is not difficult to travel by auto also," says Deepika.

College students Amitava Bhattacharje, Amrita Tandon and Debarati Chaudhary at MG road station. Pic: Navya P K

Among passengers, there are also those who travel not for work but for other specific purpose frequently. Amrita Tandon (19) and Amitava Bhattacharjee (21) are students at Garden City College in TC Palya, who use the Metro to travel to Brigade road, where they spend time regularly.

"We travel by bus from our college to Bayappanahalli station and take the Metro to MG Road station. I go to Brigade Road 2-3 times a week. Our total travel time is halved and Metro is economical for us," says Amrita.

Goran Tejas, 23, a Yeshwantpur resident who works in a travel agency, says that he is using Metro for the second time to meet his clients in Ulsoor.

Most passengers say that parking facilities are required; some cite it as a reason for not using the Metro more often. Tejas says, "I had to park my bike in a building complex in MG Road, to use the Metro. If there was parking facility, I would have used Metro more often. Now I use it about once a week."

Most commuters were not even aware of BMTC feeder buses that would connect them to Metro stations, they used either autos or buses to get to the stations. Haseen Pathan says, "In the first 5-6 days after Metro inauguration, there were feeder buses that I used to travel from home to Indiranagar station. I don’t see those buses now." She also says that the customer service is not always responsive enough and that train timings are not displayed properly in the stations at times.

Other than professionals, there are people who came in groups of families and friends to take a tour of the Metro. Ginlunmang, an Ulsoor resident in his 30s, is a software professional in Whitefield; he was travelling in Metro for the fourth time with his friends. "I have been staying in Bangalore for the last five years and am very excited about Metro. It is not useful for me now, but I find it interesting and travel often. I meet new people every time," he says.

Indiranagar resident Raviprasad, 51, says, "My friend, who is from a different city, visited me today. So I have come to Metro for the first time to show it to him."

Though the stations do not have toilets, commuters do not seem to find it an issue as the travel time is short. Some were enthused that the stations had ATMs.

A station controller at MG Road station says, on condition of anonymity, that 3000-4000 people use the station on weekdays. "Traffic is low only between 10-12 am in the morning. On weekends and holidays the numbers can go up to 20,000-30,000," he says.

Though food is not allowed inside stations, lunchboxes are allowed. "Only if someone is having food in stations or carrying snack packets we stop them. Since many people are commuting to office, they carry lunchboxes," he says.

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