(Upcoming metro projects are Kanpur, Pune, Patna, Bhopal, Indore, Meerut, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Vijayawada, etc.)
Metro rails are the most desirable infrastructures for the cities in India. They are known for facilitating people’s safe, quick, and easy movement. The transit system helps connect the hard-to-reach places with the rest of the city, which dissipates congestion as people reduce the usage of their vehicles. Moreover, with the inception of metro rail, the quality of life of people has also improved by providing more economic activities to the less influential segment of society. In this era of population explosion, the incoming of metro rail has proved to be a boon for society. With the pace with which Indian cities are getting populous, the Mass Rapid Transit Systems are the need of the hour.
The National Metro Rail Policy of 2017 has also advised the cities with a population of 20 lakhs or more to look for Mass rapid Transit Systems. Metro Rail is just one type of the MRTS, others being the:
India is investing heavily in the country’s transport infrastructure, imitating the Western Transportation System. The prospects of the metro rail are pretty bright in India. Cities are witnessing fast growth in the economic domain, and the clear manifestation is the increased number of personal vehicles. The negative side of the coin is that it has resulted in severe congestion and an increase in the pollution level of a country. The remedying efforts are required in the public transportation system, and the most pressing need is the implementation of the MRTS.
Metro rail has seen substantial growth in India in recent years, and the rate of growth is going to become twice or thrice in the coming years. The cities are facing the need for metro rail to meet daily mobility requirements. The metro rail encourages the walkable developmental pattern, which is also beneficial for society. The other merit of Metro rail is that it reduces cost and travelling time, which lowers the cost of production of goods and services, which significantly improves the city’s competitiveness. The pollution level has also reduced with the maximum public transport usage, bringing down chronic diseases and resulting in public health benefits.
Planning and implementation of Metro rail Projects: State government is the sole authority responsible for the Urban Development as the matter comes under the state list. That’s why it becomes necessary for the State Governments to make their regions more advanced and developed without hurting the economic sentiments of the people. Urban transport is inseparable and intricately connected with the issues of Urban development. Therefore, it has been argued that a System approach should be followed while implementing Metro rail transport infrastructure.
System Approach: In this, a city is represented by Land Use Zones, which are superimposed with a matching transport network. While treating the Urban area as a system and the followed interaction among the traffic, transport, and land use help predict future requirements and then evaluate the other alternative modes for the most optimum mobility plan for the city. Metro Rails should be planned and executed, keeping in mind their longer future perspective. They are a high-capacity transport system, suitable for the growing cities having a future increase in population over several years.
Alternative Analysis: Urban transports, including metro rail, deliver public goods. Therefore, its appraisal must entail a social and economic cost-benefit analysis. Metro rail enhances mobility, which catalyzes economic development and improves a city’s livability. That’s why it is pretty essential to assess the economic and social viability of the proposed project. The internal economic rate of return for the approval of any metro rail project should be either 14% or above. Moreover, the State Governments must operationalize UMTA in the city within a year for all those metro rail projects taken with the help of Central Assistance. The State Governments are responsible for supporting the metro rail projects to ensure financial sustainability.
Moreover, Metro rails have become a status symbol for any state to prove its development. With the coming of the Metro, women can reach jobs situated at a greater distance as the Metro provides a safer and quicker mode of travel between the home and workplace. This mode of transport provides safety to women and other vulnerable sections of society, including the physically disabled and elders. There is also a coach reserved for the female commuters and seats for the PWD. The metros also motivate the passengers to use public transport more and more by creating residential, leisure, and commercial spaces in the metro stations. As a result, the commutation becomes much more accessible, and the project’s financial viability also improves.
Metros are essential in India to provide the last mile connectivity, which the feeder buses have failed to provide. The most considerable lacunae of the metro companies are that they are bothered mainly with the transportation of the passenger from one platform to another, but how they reach that platform has never been their concern. This problem got resolved by the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), which introduced the idea of a Public-Private partnership. It also looked to develop the Metro in a very comprehensive manner and not in isolation. Still, some cities witness extreme ridership in buses because they don’t have any alternative public transportation system. Forex, the ridership in Indore Bus Rapid Transit System is around 6000 passengers per km.
Social Impact of the Metro Rail: All members of the society, irrespective of their caste, religion, financial status, can travel, which enhances the social integrity of the country. The necessity of a driving license is also eliminated to a great extent. It has come as a blessing in disguise for those who cannot drive or ride.
The economic impact of the Metro Rail: Mass Transit Development improves the usefulness and efficiency of the Public Transit system, which results in increased business for commercial developments and helps improve the country’s economy. Public Transit systems offer considerable savings in materials, Laboure, energy over other private transit systems. In addition, they have very efficient engines to carry large capacities, which helps in saving fuels.
Environmental impacts: Mass transit is more eco-friendly than other public transports. Private vehicles emit twice as much carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases as Public Transport. With the coming of public transport, the number of cars on the road reduced, reducing the level of pollution in the city.
In India, metro rail defines the city’s development and growth, but still, there are specific challenges that the city and its residents need to overcome to ensure a holistic benefit. First, the skyline and the city’s urban form get distorted due to the widespread network of concrete viaducts. This can be addressed by taking the Metro to the underground. Secondly, the issue of land acquisition troubles the low and middle groups and disrupts their livelihoods. Finally, the construction phase disturbs the peace and tranquility of the residents. Again, taking metros to the underground is the solution to the problem as it will minimize the need for land acquisition and reduce the people’s inconvenience during construction.
Moreover, the financial viability of any metro rail project depends on the accuracy of the traffic demand forecasts and the ridership estimation. These projects also guide the socio-economic and environmental appraisal against the project’s cost estimation. Unfortunately, most of these forecasts often led to inaccurate or misleading pictures about the project.
Thirty-four metro rail projects are under implementation across the country, with a cumulative length of nearly 1230 km. In addition, the ministry has received proposals for another 16 projects with a cumulative length of 638km comprising Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Prade sh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, etc. Expansion and development are the need of the hour, which no State Government can afford to neglect. Some examples of the recently completed metro projects are as follows:
As the Metro enhances the values of the property and boosts up the economic activities, it consequently enhances the government’s revenue at various levels. According to the Tax Increment Financing Model, this growth in the revenue should be utilized in the funding of the metro projects. With the help of this model, the collected funds can be used effectively for infrastructure projects without necessarily raising the tax rates. This would strengthen the local economy by providing additional revenues by way of development charges.Smallest Metro System: Ahmedabad Metro (6 km)