Before the advent of the Chennai Metro, Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus services and Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains were the main driver of public transport, largely defining the local transport landscape for people in the central Chennai area.
EMU services ran in three directions North Line, West Line and South Line and helped with residential development as people moved out of the central city due to the availability of a convenient reliable transport system and reduced travel time. The suburban rail network was good for commuters from remote, suburban places like Palavanthangal and Tambaram.
But with time and the growth of the city and its population, there was no room for the expansion of the railway network in the city. This resulted in a huge public transport shortfall as the MTC could not handle the demand of such a large number of commuters.
City planners had no choice but to opt for a metro system, as adopted by many global cities, to fill the public transport void.
To meet the current population’s connectivity needs and demand for public transport within Chennai’s central city and peri-urban areas, the Government of Tamil Nadu has taken the right decision to focus on the expansion of the metro rail network.
This network will connect the city in all directions and provide fast connectivity between all destinations for the growing population.
Read more: Chennai Metro: Future of Public Transport or White Elephant?
Advantages of using Chennai Metro
A quick comparison between using private vehicles and the Chennai Metro shows the cost and time saving aspects of this mode of transport.
For example, a journey from Chennai Airport to Government Estate in the Metro would take just 26 minutes with a return fare of Rs 64. The same journey by car would take an hour and 15 minutes and cost the user around Rs 400. with a two-wheeler, the travel time would be about an hour, but not without the added risk of riding on bad roads and the increasing risk of traffic accidents.
Using the subway can also help reduce your carbon footprint in times of climate change. Every responsible citizen concerned about the future should find such an efficient means of public transport to do his part and choose to avoid using private vehicles.
While EMU services have failed to keep up with the changing times by not introducing fareless travel, failing to improve accessibility at stations for the elderly and disabled, or provide multimodal transit options, the metro has, in contrast, strived to provide all of the above. There are also issues with train frequency and increasing journey times that have not been addressed by the EMU.
The issue of daytime traffic safety, especially the safety of women, has been neglected in the case of poorly lit EMU stations. This and the lack of access to toilets remain unresolved issues despite repeated incidents surrounding the same.
Read more: Chennai Metro in numbers: How does it compare to Mumbai or Delhi Metro?
Opportunities for Chennai Metro Improvements
For those who wish to take metro from suburban areas, the feeder bus is very welcome among the daily migrants of residents of Pammala, Pallavaram, Hastinapuram, Chitlapakkam and Tambaram as it is very economical to reach the metro station.
Several small buses or express travelers can be operated within a radius of about 10 km within the central city to make last mile connectivity more accessible to reach the destination.
Running such feeder services from stations to popular travel/tourist destinations like T Nagar, Pondy Bazaar, Marina Beach, Santhome and Purasaiwalkkam would also help ease last mile connectivity issues.
More parking spaces should be added at busy stations, especially for two-wheeler parking. Payment with a QR code should also be allowed in parking lots.
As a resident of Tambaram, the metro extension is very welcome among the residents here due to its affordability, ease of travel, accessibility, reduced travel time and safety.
As the population has increased in recent times in areas like Perungalathur, Tambaram, Chitlapakkam and Chromepet – away from the city center – the demand for reliable public transport in the area has increased. With many commuters looking to public transport to reach schools, colleges and workplaces, the metro will play a key role in bridging the gap.
Many residents hope that the construction of the Airport-Kilambakkam metro line will be accelerated and completed in 2026 to join the 160-km integrated comprehensive transport system of the first and second phases of the metro.
By doing the above, connectivity to the central city would be vastly improved for those in the suburbs and help mass mobility with low cost and low carbon emissions.