The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation is planning to introduce more prepaid auto stands across five stations: Banashankari, Bypanahalli, Cubbon Park, Nagasandra and Majestic, but asks commuters not to expect them anytime soon.
Bengaluru, November 3, 2022: Prepaid auto stands which were to be installed by the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) across all metro stations have not been set up yet, making it difficult for passengers using the Namma Metro on a daily basis to find last-mile connectivity.
This forces commuters like Anoushka J, a resident of Yelahanka and a regular Metro user, to turn to cabs or private autos, which are often unreliable and expensive. She said, “It takes more than 20 minutes to get an auto as no driver is ready to use the meter. All the time I save travelling by metro is lost because of this last-mile connectivity issue. Prepaid auto stands at stations do solve the problem.”
The BMRCL had rolled out 11 pre-paid auto stands in partnership with the Bangalore Traffic Police (BTP) in 2011 at stations like Mahatma Gandhi Road and Mantri Square. However, they were soon faced with complaints of none of these stands to be in working conditions and unruly auto drivers charging high fares outside other stations. This prompted the BMRCL to plan the further setting up of prepaid stands at all metro stations by 2020.
However, the promise fell short due to the pandemic, with auto drivers saying that the stands already in place have been shut since the lockdown restrictions were lifted.
The Metro Corporation has also shifted its focus to furthering metro projects across the city, with little consideration being given to the prepaid auto stands, said the senior manager of the Public Relations Office of the BMCRL, TL Raviprakash, “Our current focus is on extending the Phase-II project and starting out with the Phase-III project. We are not focusing on auto stands at our stations for now.”
The Deputy Commissioner of Police for Traffic (West), Kuldeep Jain, said that the BTP and BMRCL are in talks of introducing 10 more prepaid auto booths across the city. He said that the process is still in the pipelines.
Raviprakash, however, said that the current action plan includes the setting up of only five prepaid stands instead of the announced 10, “There are plans to introduce prepaid stands across five metro stations – Banashankari, Bypanahalli, Cubbon Park, Nagasandra and Majestic. But this will not happen any time soon.”
Though bus shuttle services exist between metro stations and areas not connected via metro, they are often irregular and don’t have adequate route coverage. The poor connectivity leads to further traffic congestion in the city, explained Ranjith Parvathapuram, an urban transport planner.
“There are two types of commuters in Bangalore. Choice commuters and trapped commuters. Trapped commuters are those who are forced to use public transport since they don’t have any other viable choice. However, if the issue of first- to-last mile connectivity is not solved, more and more commuters will be pushed to being choice users, with their own personal modes of transport. This will worsen the traffic condition in the city.”
With the recent ban on auto aggregators like Ola and Uber, the market for a fair-priced auto ride has seen an exponential rise, says the BTP, with apps like Namma Yatri making the most out of it. Experts believe that with the introduction of more prepaid auto stands, the overall cost of rides across the city will be regulated more easily.