The Bangalore Metro Fiasco

I drive across MG Road in Bangalore everyday. There is Bangalore Metro work going on there, of course, and the lane goes from 3 lane to 2 lanes. A couple of days ago, they started digging on the other side of the road too and hence, rendering the road one lane and creating an unnecessary traffic jam for 1 hr. It kind of ticked me off and set me into action (though that was not the first time I thought about it…) searching for information on the background and history of Bangalore Metro.

Here is what I found, so far… They have a website – here and there is information on fares, stations, savings (or benefits) for Bangalore due to the project (in crores!!!) – ALL GREAT. Do check it out. Here is where the trick is, in all the mumbo-jumbo they have missed the point (I’m assuming naivette as opposed to willful negligence here).

1. Why was an east-west and north-south route chosen the way it has been?  – The way I see it (and I’m not an expert here…) the people who travel through the routes mentioned are less likely to take a public transport than anybody else in Bangalore.

2. Did they identify the traffic hot-spots, anticipate how they will develop/change a few years from now and chose the stops based on that? – Because, again neither Koramangala nor the newly developing areas around Hebbal are being connected. And, given the fact that Bangalore’s floating population is burgeoning and bursting at the seams, was there an assessment made as to where they were relocating to or where they were travelling on a day-to-day basis? Again, I don’t see it on the website, if there is anything – pls do point it out to me, I would love to see the predictions around the development of our dear city. Moreover, if assessments/assumptions have been made about population clusters what kinds of policies are being driven to ensure that those assumptions become a reality, so that all this expenditure and inconvenience can be put to good use!

3. Though there are grand claims around reducing the public discomfort on the website (by ensuring work done at night and modularity etc.) I don’t see any of them being implemented in reality (again, I only have a snapshot but I have it at random times every single day at least twice, if not more, of different work sites)

4. No mention of the security precautions, quality measures or tests being done – did u say I should not be worried especially after the Delhi Metro issue?

5. Deccan Herald reported that IAS/IPS officers associated with the BMRCL went to foreign countries on the pretext of understanding the metro systems there. The BMRCL issued a statement condemning the article and stating that nobody has travelled abroad on any pretext for the Bangalore Metro. Now, I’m even more worried. It is ok for some people to learn best practices and if it takes some IAS/IPS officers to travel abroad and learn the science and art of good metro planning and construction, it should happen. Shame on the newspaper for reporting it as if it is a scandal and while BMRCL’s reply was appropriate, I would have felt comfortable knowing that they had in fact consulted with the best before doing what they did – DIGGING UP ENTIRE BANGALORE, WITHOUT A PLAN IN PLACE – to alleviate our problems after 4 or 5 or 6 years of putting up with the digging and shoveling.

Would love to hear from Bangaloreans on what they think about this issue? Any insights that I’m not aware of?


6 Responses to “The Bangalore Metro Fiasco”

  1. 1 simon January 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Excellent article.

  2. 2 girish January 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I am sure they would have taken one thing into consideration in all the planning. Bangalore has lot of narrow roads on which they cannot dig even if that is a busy route considering future travellers.

    Regarding connecting newer locations, it is generally in the plan of all Metros to get there at a later phase. First phase is typically connecting the heart of the city to the nearest place on the supposedly old outskirt of the city, beyond which we assume that the road network is well planned (considering they were built later). If that is not the case in Bangalore, then the haphazard expansion is to blame rather than Metro.

    I am a fan of Delhi metro, though it is also causing lot of traffic jams in Delhi. But once it is made, it is going to be much better than travelling in any other mode of transport (Bangalore volvo buses excluded. I like those too.)

    • 3 Sreeja Iyer January 14, 2010 at 7:36 am

      You have brought out a very good point Girish, regarding the haphazard development of the city. Unlike Delhi, Bangalore was a small city to begin with and it has grown in all directions. So there is a core and then there are surrounding IT Parks and then the development around them, pulling Bangalore out of shape and propotion. However, the first Metro project should address the most pressing need to begin with – which, I’m assuming is the floating population in Bangalore and their daily commute to work. If so, then the Metro doesn’t address that need. In as many words, that is my biggest concern.

      There are definitely narrow roads around where they are digging today and hence, the need to dig up the only large roads available in the city. But the larger question is, were these the roads to be dug in the first place? If the city grew haphazardly, there is no excuse to doing one unplanned work after another to correct that wrong. That won’t help the city one bit.

      Also, let me say this, just to clarify, my problem is not with the traffic jams or the digging up. I understand that it is required at some level to construct something like a Metro. My problem is with the fact that I don’t know whether it was a well-planned, well-assessed activity or another fiasco? Especially when the companies are making predictions of saving crores of rupees, I would love to know.

  3. 4 Anoop January 14, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I dont completely agree with the point that not many from those designated areas prefer public transport assuming ofcourse its not a statistical analysis and its being based only on a few group of people. For example: my mother irrespective of all the luxuries prefers public transport as she tells me she feels safe using a public service, my point is there are many I know of in Koramangala and hebbal myself who prefer public transport instead of driving their own vehicles to work.
    My 2nd observation is that Koramangala and other developing areas could be planned as part of next phase of metro development in bangalore, Im unsure if the govt has enough funds to make the same public. I oversaw this type of development in Singapore where new areas were connected through another line very recently, but it was never made public that the govt was planning to do so until they were ready to do so, Im wishing & hoping the same may happen in Bangalore.

    As a proud Bangalorean myself I hope the calamity of Delhi Metro does not tarnish the image of Bangalore metro, I hope every precautions have been taken along with yesterdays unforgotten lessons of delhi are being considered now and henceforth to ensure public safety.

    On a positive note! Im so thrilled and happy to see these developments in Bangalore and after having lived most of my professional career abroad and sporadically visiting Bangalore in patches, I now feel even prouder to be back this time even though again its for a short period of time. I guess BJP govt’s claims of turning bangalore into a paradise before elections knows no bounds and peoples selection of them may very well be justified, only if more developments like these continue

    • 5 sree January 16, 2010 at 11:28 pm


      Thanks for your comments and I agree about the fact that I want to see as much development as possible. Metro is a step in the right direction.

      However, what I meant was whether people travelling to the points that have been linked to begin with will want to use public transport – it was not the other way round.

      It will be great to see some quality and safety precautions related deails updated on the BMRCL website so I don’t have to just hope that nothing like Delhi metro will happen here.

      People from Koramangala and Hebbal might prefer public transport (and Im not making any value judgements here) but the fact remains that these two main areas of expansion and traffic pressure are not being included in the first phase of the metro. If there is a later version that is great, but it will take another 5 years atleast to make that functional – what till then?

      • 6 Anoop January 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm

        I guess there are enough buses linking the city, I presume that will continue until metro kicks off, this is my assumption. Im quite unsure if the same is going to happen. I see work with highways/ metro picking up pace near Jayanagar and surrounding areas, the success of Koramangala metro may well be relative to success of other areas.

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