Most Metro networks in India have not met projected ridership: Report
Even though the country is investing hugely in laying a Metro network in major cities, most of the Metro networks are not meeting their projected ridership, a recent analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI)-India has revealed.
Mumbai Metro is the only exception on the list of Metros analysed by the organization that has included Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow and the Hyderabad Metro network. Mumbai has surpassed the projected ridership of around 4.2 lakh. Before the pandemic hit the city, Mumbai Metro had a ridership of 4.5 lakh on weekdays.
The analysis, which looks at projected versus the actual ridership of Metro networks, notes that one of the major reasons for this shortfall is lack of first and last mile connectivity to the corridors. First and last mile connectivity refers to the beginning and end of the commuter’s public transport journey; or the ease with which they can access the Metro/railway stations.
The data analyzed by WRI shows that Bengaluru’s ‘Namma Metro’ with more than 40km of operational line had a projected ridership of more than 8 lakh trips, but has reached only half the number in 2019. Even Chennai Metro had a projected ridership of close to 6 lakh trips, however, it is close to 1.15 lakh trips per day, the data shows. “This shortfall has been attributed to a lack of comprehensive first-and last-mile solutions to connect homes, offices, and other activity centres with Metro stations,” the WRI analysis read. According to a WRI survey of 2016, 70% of potential commuters in Bengaluru had said that they are not using the Metro owing to poor first and last-mile connectivity.
Sudeept Maiti, senior manager at WRI, said, “Apart from access to stations, the overall cost of door-to-door travel along the Metro compared to buses is also a reason for the poor ridership. People may not prefer to take the Metro owing to the transfers and wait time associated with it. Unlike a direct bus, Metro trips in most cases will have at least two transfer points i.e. when transferring from bus/auto to metro and vice versa.”
However, the reasons for Mumbai being an exception are multifold. For one, Mumbai Metro, for now, is only a single operational 11.5-km line connecting the three suburbs of Versova, Andheri and Ghatkopar. Subhadeep Bhattacharjee, project associate – sustainable cities and transport program, WRI said, “Mumbai Metro acts as a major connectivity between eastern and western suburbs. People travelling from other cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (Thane, Kalyan, Navi Mumbai) can change to Metro at Ghatkopar station and travel till Andheri station, to travel further on the western railway line. Many commercial centres are located along the present Mumbai Metro Line-1 corridor; stations like Sakinaka, Marol Naka, Chakala and Western express highway have high boarding and alighting numbers. Another reason could also be that Mumbai commuters are familiar with multimodal travel.”
However, with 337km of metro lines planned in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, of which 180km are currently under construction, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is planning multimodal integration at each of the upcoming metro stations. RA Rajeev, metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA said, “Each of the upcoming metro stations will have bus bays, auto stands, cycle docks and walking space. Last-mile connectivity is being given the highest priority in Mumbai now.”
Before the pandemic hit the city, the Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), which runs the Metro-1 corridor and MMRDA had inaugurated the MyByk services, a public bike-sharing mechanism from the Jagruti Nagar metro station. MMRDA had also recently inaugurated e-bikes in the Bandra Kurla Complex for enhancing connectivity to the suburban Bandra and Kurla stations. “New mobility services make efficient use of technology innovations, such as digital payments and vehicle tracking, to provide convenient last-mile solutions for commuting,” the WRI analysis states.
Arjit Soni, founder of MyByk said, “Unless first and last mile connectivity issues are addressed, public transport will continue to be less accessible and inconvenient. Mumbai needs a combination of different new mobility solutions as the demand during peak hours is huge.”