Yaara Metro ?
Namma Metro - the plan and what we can expect
The plan What we can expect
Planned for completion in 2011.
Will have 2 lines – East-West and North-
South- totalling 33 km., with 35 stations.
27 km. will be above ground, 6 km.
Cost Rs. 6400 Cr. - Rs. 150 Cr./km. for the
above ground, Rs. 300 Cr./km. for the
Planned to carry 10 Lakh people a day.
Actual completion in 2012 assuming inevitable
Cost Rs. 12000 Cr. assuming inevitable cost
escalation (already escalated to Rs. 9000 Cr.)
Will carry 5 Lakh people a day, going by Delhi
and Kolkata metro's ratio of planned vs. actual
Bangalore is waiting for the Metro desperately, expecting it to be the solution to all its transport problems. The
Metro is considered to be a 'good idea' because someone in government has seen it working beautifully in some
city in a developed country – maybe London, Paris, New York, Madrid or Tokyo – and thought it can be
transplanted to Bangalore.
We already have a bus system that we think is bad. It however serves 50 % of the city's population very well and
is profitable. The BMTC has 5000 buses and carries 37 Lakh people daily. That's 0.2 % of the city's vehicle
population carrying 50 % of the human population.
Let's do a quick analysis of the possible benefits from the Metro, compare it with Metro systems in other cities,
and compare it with the other mass transport option – a bus system.
Bangalore and London have almost the same population.
Greater Bangalore has an area of 741 sq. km. and a population of 72
Lakh. In 2012 it will be 1 Cr.
The Greater London Urban Area has a population of 75 Lakh in an
area of 1500 sq.km.
The London Underground extends over 400 km., with 268 stations.
Bangalore's Metro will extend over 33 km., with 35 stations. We will
have 8 % of London's coverage, 5 years from now, and think it's
going to solve our problem.
BMTC covers the whole of the area
under the Corporation.
Bangalore London Paris
Density of coverage of Metros in various cities.
The Metro will have 2 lines, one going East-West and the other going
North-South. Unless you happen to live within 1 km. of a Metro line,
you will have to take a bus to the nearest station, then take a bus
again at the destination station.
Poor accessibility is why the metros in Delhi and Koltaka carry less
than 50 % of the people that they were designed for, and the bus
systems in Bangkok and Singapore carry more people than the
Bangkok subway carries 2 Lakh passengers a day, while the bus
system carries 50 Lakh passengers a day.
Singapore Metro carries 12 Lakh passengers a day, while buses
carry 30 Lakh passengers a day.
Bangalore Metro's is planned to carry 10 Lakh passengers a day, but
will most likely carry around 5 Lakh, going by Delhi and Kolkata's
BMTC's buses already cover the whole
city, and everyone in the city probably
lives within 1 km. of a bus stop. The
BMTC is planning to reduce this distance
to 0.5 km.
1 km. is the maximum distance that people will be willing to walk to / from the Metro. This means you can walk to
a Metro station only if you live within the red bands in the picture. Anyone living outside the bands will have to
cover the extra distance by some other means of transport – car, 2-wheeler, bicycle or bus.
The further away you live from the centre of the city, the longer you have travel to the nearest station. The
longest distance will be approx. 6 km., for example if you live midway between the RV Road and Byappanahalli
The Metro's average speed is 32 kmph. The average is much less
than the maximum of 80 kmph. because of stops at stations and
acceleration and deceleration between them. Yeshwantpur to
Jayanagar will take 28 minutes, Byappanahalli to Mysore Rd. 33
Your total commute time does not just depend on the speed of the
train. It is the door-to-door time, from your starting point to your
destination. The last mile connectivity is therefore extremely
important, and the last mile can often take more time than the travel
Let's say the nearest Metro station is 4 km. from your home, 3 km.
from your office. You take a bike or car, park it at the station, wait 5
minutes for the train, take the Metro 12 km., then take a bus to the
office. 7 km. by bike + bus will take you 40 minutes (average speed
on the road is now 15 kmph., will be 10 kmph by 2011).
Total 69 minutes.
The further away you are from the centre of the city, the longer your
last mile commute.
If there is widespread usage of buses
and hence far less private vehicles,
average speed on the road will be
approx. 30 kmph. This has been the
experience in cities worldwide with
extensive bus systems, like Curitiba,
The nearest bus stop is typically 1 km.
from any place is the city now (the BMTC
is planning to reduce this to 0.5 km.). If
you walk to and from the stops, it's 20
minutes for the walking, 5 minutes
waiting for the bus, 24 minutes on the
Total 49 minutes.
The elevated sections of Bangalore's Metro will cost Rs. 160 Cr. per
km, while the underground sections will cost Rs. 300 Cr. per km.
To build a network equivalent to London's, it is going to cost
Bangalore Rs. 100,000 Cr. assuming an average cost of Rs. 300 Cr.
A really good bus system might involve
buying 7000 more buses and improving
bus shelters, signage, etc. This would
cost about Rs. 2500 Cr. and take 1 year.
City-wide coverage at a fraction of the
Metro's cost !
Indore's BRT is expected to cost Rs. 870
Cr. for 120 km., about Rs. 7 Cr. / km.,
less than 5 % of Delhi Metro's cost.
Time to build
London's underground started operation in 1863, 145 years ago. It
has evolved over the years into what it is now.
It is going to take Bangalore 50 years to build a network that is
equivalent to London's, assuming that we build 40 km. every 5
Here's when the underground in other cities started operation:
New York - 1904
Paris - 1900
Madrid - 1919
The bus system can be improved to
handle the whole city efficiently in just 1
or 2 years. City-wide coverage in 1/50th
the time of the Metro.
Bogota's bus system took 1.5 years to
Mr. Chaturvedi, Chief Operations Manager, Kolkata Metro Railway,
said this in 2005:
“Where the gross annual income of the Metro is roughly Rs.48
crores, its maintenance cost is a whopping Rs.125 crores. The Metro
was designed to decongest the city's roads. I am afraid it has not
been able to do that. Even during peak periods, the capacity
utilisation of the trains has been around 70 per cent, and only 40 per
cent in the early mornings. Unfortunately for the Metro, it has to
compete with cheaper modes of public transport such as buses and
A commonly repeated claim is that Delhi Metro is one of the handful
of profitable metro systems in the world.
In 2006-7, Delhi Metro's earnings were Rs. 220 Cr. from ticket sales
and advertisement on trains, Rs. 251 Cr. from sale and renting of
land. This means less than half its revenues came from transport
The metro gets subsidized or free land, gets funding at low interest
rates from the government (meaning us, the taxpayers), and then
makes money mainly from property development. We, the tax
payers, will end up subsidizing the Metro in various ways on a
Since a bus system costs between 5 and
10 % of a metro system, a reasonably
well run bus system will be profitable on
ticket sales alone, instead of depending
on selling real estate. The BMTC now is
MG Road was one of Bangalore's showpieces - gently sloping down
from the Kasturba Road end, row of shops and restaurants on one
side, bouganvilla border on the other side with a tree-covered
walkway beyond. This is going to be replaced by tons of concrete.
A substantial part of Lal Bagh is going to be eaten up for a station.
Nanda Theatre road at 2.5 km. is the longest tree-covered boulevard
in India. The Metro is going to go down the middle of this road. The
huge, beautiful trees on both sides of the road are going to be
trimmed to 50 % of their coverage area, which means they will fall
down due to gravity shortly thereafter. These are not mentioned in
Namma Metro's Environmetal Impact Report. The report says 412
trees will be cut in total, a serious under-estimate.
Scores of homes and businesses are going to be destroyed.
Most metro systems in the world are underground to prevent this
kind of destruction. In our Metro, however, 27 km. of the tracks are
going to be above ground and 6 km. underground. If we adopt the
same ratio in future for the remaining 400 km., virtually every street
and locality is going to be just a mass of concrete.
Minimal environmental damage. The
current road network is enough to handle
the additional bus numbers. Remember,
we are talking of buses instead of private
vehicles. With some sensible legislation
and planning to promote public transport
and discourage private transport, we can
reduce the number of vehicles to 6 Lakhs
instead of the current 32 Lakhs. This
would mean a drastic reduction in air
MG Rd., 2007 MG Rd., 2001 – artist's impression. Courtesy – Deccan Herald
A city is dynamic. Population densities can shift as the economics of
the city change. The Metro cannot be rerouted once it is built.
Numerous stations in the London underground are not used any
longer because lines have been rerouted or they are too infrequently
used to to justify keeping them open.
A bus system can grow and change with
the city. The bus system adapts itself to
the city as it evolves, while with the Metro
it is the reverse - the city will have to
adapt itself to the Metro.
One of 42 undergound stations closed in London, because of changes in the city.
The Metro will be ready 3 years from now.
Traffic congestion will remain. The traffic population in 2011 will be 50 % more than what it is now.
Commute time will not be reduced for most residents of Bangalore. Commuting will be an even worse
nightmare, maybe taking twice as long as it does now, because the number of cars and 2-wheelers will
have hugely increased.
The city’s aesthetics will be largely ruined. Some of the city's best landmarks are going to vanish.
Scores of businesses and homes are going to be destroyed.
Air pollution will be far worse than it is now.
While the Metro is getting built, some of the key roads are going to be blocked.
To expand the Metro to an ideal 400 km., there will be continuous construction for the next 50 years.
Many (most?) of us will suffer the construction, but will not be alive to see its final fruit.
All this to carry 5 Lakh passengers, 4 % of the population of Greater Bangalore in 2011.
Shouldn't we be thinking of a better option?
The final verdict on the Delhi Metro today is : “It's beautiful, very clean, just like the metros abroad”. Nobody says
”It has reduced the traffic, reduced pollution, reduced commute time and cost for the WHOLE of Delhi.”
Delhi's traffic congestion remains, its pollution levels are increasing, the government is trying out alternatives like
the BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) system.
Trains can be the most efficient way of carrying people around, in terms of space usage, pollution and cost.
However, there are trains and trains, and the big questions are:
1. Can we afford a Metro ?
2. Is it too late to think of a train system now – should we have done this 100 years ago, like London or
3. Is the over-ground system going to destroy the city, should it be underground instead ?
4. Why do richer countries than India think the Metro is unaffordable and opt for bus systems instead?
5. There are close to 100 cities worldwide that have implemented or are implementing bus based systems.
6. Why aren't we thinking holistically of a transport system that is a mix of vehicles instead of just the
Metro, with the rest as an afterthought ? Metro as 'A system' meshing with the rest, rather than 'THE
Balancing the pros and the cons, it might even be better to scrap the Metro and get a good bus system instead.
Your response is most probably going to be : "Oh, the arguments are all very convincing, but we have already
spent so much money on the Metro and done so much construction. How can we scrap it all now?".
To which my reply is this. Let's say your doctor tells you today that your lifestyle for the past 20 years was a
mistake, has resulted in high cholesterol, sugar and hypertension, and will surely result in your early death
unless you change it immediately. Which of these would you do?
1. Think that changing your lifestyle now is too much of a disruption, and decide to go on as before.
2. Realize that what you have been doing is wrong, decide to scrap the old lifestyle to avoid destroying yourself.
Let's apply the same decision making process to the Metro.