The Bangalore Metro has been operating many stations with only one or two open entrances or exits.
The Namma Metro has many stations which have one side of the station sealed off. Some of these stations are Kengeri, Krishna Rajendra Market, Srirampura, and Baiyappanahalli. This leaves the commuters with no other option than to stand in long queues to get tickets and to go through security checks. It is an inconvenience to most commuters, especially pregnant women, old people, and people rushing to reach their offices on time.
Ritika Sharma, a commuter who uses the Baiyappanahalli to Mahatma Gandhi Road line on a daily basis, said, “It is definitely an inconvenience to the public. It may even stop people from using the metro, unless they have to. It’s not senior citizen friendly at all.” She said that at the Baiyappanahalli metro station, one has to walk at least 500 metres across the foot over bridge as one side of the station is closed off. “What about the people who can’t do that? The station is definitely inconvenient for people who are unable to walk that much.”
B L Yashwanth Chavan, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s (BMRCL) Chief Public Relations Officer said, “It is more for the sustainability and affordability of the passengers.” He said that since the pandemic there has been low footfall. In order to be sustainable and conserve resources, these entrances will remain closed. He added that opening these entrances again will increase maintenance costs of the stations and the revenue generated might not be enough to cover it. The daily ridership is five lakhs during the weekdays.
When the metro was reopened after the pandemic, most stations had only one way to enter for better crowd control. The daily ridership back then was also lower than what it is now. Vinay Kumar, the director of Eitimo Ventures LLP and a frequent metro commuter, said, “Due to COVID-19 most of the stations had only one working window. And, in order to control security and checks, they put in only one line of security. But, I think it’s high time now that things are back to normal, they should open up two windows and two lines for security so that they can speed up the process of people entering and exiting.”
The Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Metro Station, Majestic, is the point where the green and purple lines of the metro meet. Even though it is one of the most popular stations, it had one of its four entrances closed until last month. Gopinath, a metro staff member, said that they decided to open gate C too as the crowd has been increasing. He said that this made it easier for the staff to handle their work.
Ravi Gadepalli, an independent consultant who works on improving public transport, said that the problem here might be low ridership. The focus should be on attracting more ridership to the system. The current ridership is around five lakhs but the metro’s projected ridership was around 20 or 25 lakhs. The stations and the platforms are designed for that level of ridership which is why the length of the platform is much longer than the length of the train. “Stations can handle much larger train capacity, but even that is underutilised. The overall system is currently underutilised because the demand generated is not as much as expected,” he said.
Mr. Chavan said that the metro has a daily ridership of five lakhs during weekdays and three lakhs during the weekends. Out of all these commuters, only 0.1 percent of them complained about the entrances being closed. They conduct regular surveys to measure the footfall and when the footfall increases, the remaining entrances will be opened.