With a burgeoning population, expanding boundaries and quickening pace of life, commuting has become a day-to-day nightmare. But are we utilising all our means of public transport?
Padmini C & Sudeshna Koka
Even a few years ago, Hyderabad was a City that prided itself on being a place where people could go from one place to another without having to set aside two hours as travel time. Needless to say, this has changed.
The 2011 census reveals that Hyderabad’s population has grown from 3,829,753 in 2001 to 40,10,238 in 2011.
Among many of the problems this exponential rise poses for the City, the single-most daunting concern for urbanites now is commuting.
Estimates show that the number of vehicles on the roads have multiplied from 10.9 lakh in 2001 to 18.4 by 2007. The numbers have no doubt tripled since then. Industry experts say, as many as 600 new vehicles hit the City roads every day.
Traffic woes are endless. Lack of civic sense, pollution levels, unruly pedestrians, hawkers and peddlers, bad roads, beautification projects, overcrowded buses and demanding auto drivers are all threatening our sanity.
Public Transport woes
It doesn’t come as news that over 70 per cent of Hyderabad travels by public transport.
A majority of this population travels by buses. At last count, APSRTC had over 4,000 buses in the City. But ask any local and they will tell you, it’s not enough.
“On paper, they say there are x number of buses. But in reality, only half of them are on the road. So even though buses are economical, they are extremely crowded, especially during peak hours. Some of them don’t even stop. To make things worse they are not punctual and so at times we end up waiting for almost an hour,” rues engineering student, Meghana Reddy.
If those who take the bus consider it traumatic, they should take heart for the victims of the auto raj. “U-turn. Rain. Traffic. Won’t get passengers. No Meter. Petrol prices. One and half. Night time. There’s no end to the excuses auto drivers will come up with to fleece you.
“Gone are the days when the place mattered, now it’s all about the price. Short distances or long distances, it’s become a nightmare to travel by rickshaws. They are often rowdy, argumentative, demanding and out of control. No one’s doing anything about it. If not anything else, we need a Meter Down movement similar to the one that was held in Mumbai. This can’t go on,” says a hassled Sri Kamalam, an IT employee who is at her wits end, trying to get back home from work every day.
A forgotten track
In 2003, the Indian Railways put together a project that sought to alleviate traffic congestion in the City.
The completed Phase I of the Multi Modal Transport System (MMTS), costing Rs.178 crore, has been active ever since. Today, it runs 121 services a day, covering 27 stations, connecting Secunderabad, Falaknuma and Lingampally over the existing railway network.
For a number of reasons, real and perceived, the project never caught public fancy. It is estimated that only 1.6lakh people avail the facility even today.
In fact, it was owing to “poor patronage,” that the Phase II of MMTS Hyderabad was said to have been delayed multiple times. Until now, that is. The Union government has recently given the go-ahead for the Phase II, estimated to cost Rs.632.68 crore, which will connect new lines including Falaknuma-International airport, Sanath Nagar — Mouli Ali among others.
A Viable Alternative?
There’s a palatable amount of interest in the upcoming Metro project in the twin cities. But the already existing MMTS remains ignored as a convenient, economical, speedy mode of transport. In the next week, Postnoon will bring you a series on what ails the MMTS. We’ll talk to its loyalists and its critics. We’ll seek answers for why the railway service is such an alien concept to a majority of commuters in the City. If it’s truly inconvenient or simply under-utilised. Most importantly, we’ll find out if, or not, the MMTS is a viable alternative to other means of public transport in the City.