Namma Metro is ruling the news. 3 lakh passengers have used the network just two days after the launch of the entire Phase I of Bengaluru’s very own metro. The ridership of the Purple Line, the first to be launched of the two lines, shot up by close to 50% since the launch of Green Line. Reason? IT employed North and South Bangaloreans along the metro corridor can now seamlessly travel to Whitefield by switching lines at Kempegowda Interchange, then boarding a metro feeder BMTC bus at Baiyyappanahalli. People are surely experimenting the modes of travel, abandoning their two and four wheelers for better comfort and, of course, to save time and energy. What’s to be seen is how patient and persistent the people will be.
I started using the metro when it was launched in 2011. I used to miss my regular office shuttle from my place because I used to wake up half an hour late than the scheduled pick up time. This had become a habit because of late nights at work. So my dad used to drop me at M.G.Road metro station on his way to work and I used to take the metro to reach Baiyyappanahalli. It used to take 40-50 minutes on a two wheeler to reach M.G.Road, another ten minutes to hop on to the train, 14 minutes of travel to Baiyyappanahalli and then another 30-40 minutes of travel to Whitefield EPIP in an auto rickshaw.
Total time spent in traveling = 1h 30m to 2h
Had I chosen the alternative of switching buses to reach Whitefield, it’d have taken 2 hours flat after switching 3 buses.
My dad used to call me crazy for spending close to 130 bucks to reach office a few hours late instead of going to office for free. But those few hours of sleep at home were priceless.
In 2013, my team shifted to an office space near Dairy Circle. I was happy because my travel would now be 22 kms instead of 40 kms, one way. I had a direct BMTC bus to the office too. When I shifted, I learnt how bad the traffic was. It took the same 2 hours by bus. There was no office shuttle for the 1030 shift and I could take a shuttle only till Malleshwara on the way back. There, I’d have to switch to a BMTC Volvo, one of the last two schedules, to reach my locality on the fag North-West end of the city, 1.5 km walk impending at 1030 PM. I was frustrated within a few months and started taking autorickshaw everyday. One way used to cost me 270 odd bucks. I struck a deal with an auto-driver wherein I’d pay him 500 a day for pick-up and drop. That was close to ₹10,000 a month, about one third of my monthly salary back then.
That year, the stretch between Mantra Square Sampige Road station in Malleshwara and Peenya Industry station was launched. I jumped at the thought of using metro again and calculated all the money that I could save. I used to drive down 5kms to Peenya Industry station every morning, take the metro to Mantra Square and then an autorickshaw to Dairy Circle. On the way back I used to take the shuttle to Mantra Square, then metro to Peenya Industry and reach home by my car. Journey times came down from 2 hours to about 1h 15min – 1h 30min. Daily spending was cut down to about 180 a day.
Although I couldn’t sustain it throughout, I used to switch between the metro mode and the fully autorickshaw mode now and then. Where it impacted me was in inculcating a habit of using the service. I was now proud that I don’t use private transport except for the last few miles. I was not contributing to the traffic jams. It became a norm at my place to ask our guests to come to Peenya Industry by metro from where we’d pick them up in a car. Reaching Malleshwara, 12kms from my house, was otherwise a nightmare that would eat up an hour plus on the road.
In May 2015, four months after I switched from my previous company to the existing one in Manyata Tech Park, the stretch between Nagasandra and Peenya Industry stations was launched, thereby connecting us to Mantri Square. We struck gold. Travelling to Malleshwara was as simple as riding a two wheeler for 2.5kms to reach the station in 10 minutes, take the train to reach Malleshwara in 25 minutes. In 2003, BMTC buses used to take 35 minutes from Majestic to my place near Hesaraghatta Road, a whole 17kms. Metro was achieving the same in 2015, not bad.
The launch of the stretch between Mantra Square and Nagasandra changed a lot of things in my own social life. For the first time in all these years, my friends willingly came down to my locality because of the metro. My retired parents boldly stepped out because it was far easier and less strenuous by the train. Yet, the names of few localities like Basavanagudi, Jayanagar used to leave me shuddered. No, you just can’t travel down to those localities. Lalbagh? No. The thought of crossing Majestic, Corporation or Cottonpet was too horrifying.
In the last two weeks, I had to travel to Bangalore Institute of Technology in V.V.Pura to write examinations. I used to park my two wheeler, take metro to Mantri Square and then an autorickshaw to V.V.Puram. the entire exercise took 1h 15mins. That was when I thought about writing this piece. I was saving a lot of time and energy. What required traveling for 2 hours by bus and walk now required 1h 15min. How would it be when the stretch between Mantri Square and Yelachenahalli is opened?
Three days ago, on 18th June 2017, the entire Phase I was thrown open to the public. One can now travel between all those places in Bangalore, the thought of travelling to which once gave goosebumps. I can take a metro to almost 40% of the city if I club an auto or a cab. Getting to Whitefield is as easy as parking two wheeler at the station or taking a feeder bus to Nagasandra station (10 mins), a train to Majestic (27 mins), a train to Baiyyappanahalli (18 minutes) and a feeder bus to Whitefield. 1h 15 minutes total. I can now go on weekend walks to Lalbagh or Cubbon Park. Vidyarthi Bhavan’s Dose is not unreachable anymore! You want me to come to M.G.Road? Done! Electronics City and certain other areas may still be out of bounds, but we’ll get there.
Using public transport requires a specific state of mind, a change in mindset. Using metro requires many lifestyle changes. You have to be punctual, you have to plan and you should be ready to take some hassle on yourself. I have seen the benefits and have now shared it with you, my readers. The benefits are evident. It brings a sort of discipline to your travel, it organizes you, it saves your time and energy while offering comfortable travel. Spend your time reading a book or listening to music when you get a seat. Mumbaikars may be laughing at this article, but I’m happy it’s not that hectic here. Bangalore is fast, not as fast. There’s a certain slowness to it. The metro is a faster mode of travel, yet it’s slow – just like the city. You have to keep time, only to use it luxuriously.
Hop on to that metro, save your money, time and energy. Help the environment, the traffic and the cops who man the junctions for you. Don’t crib about the delays, the slightly higher prices or about last mile connectivity. Endure it’s all for the greater good.