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Concerns to be addressed in planning the Chennai Metro

May 4, 2011

Although there has been a lot of talk about the Chennai Metro (CMRL), several important questions remain unanswered about the effects that the Metro will have on other kinds of traffic and transportation in the city, and how the city has planned for these impacts. Unlike the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS), the metro will be visible and accessible through arterial roads (Anna Salai, E.V.R. Periyar Salai, Inner Ring Road).

Planning for road safety, especially for pedestrians

According to RtI data Transparent Chennai collected, these three roads have accounted for over 17% of all road accidents in the city between 2006-2010 and about 29% of these accidents involved pedestrians. These roads already have a heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Since users have to walk into the metro station, special consideration needs to be given to the pedestrian infrastructure in these areas as the number of pedestrians will further increase on these roads.

The current percentage of trips made using public transport in Chennai is only 29%. Chennai Metro Rail along with other public transport operators predicts to raise it to about 55% by 2025 by expanding public transport and multimodal integration. As the MTC buses will continue to run on these roads as feeder service to the Metro, the bus stops and the metro station access points should be co-ordinated in such a way that one could access both safely with little or no obstacles. Cordon stations, points where people will change modes, will receive large increases of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, all of which needs to be managed for effective working of this mode. A co-ordinated plan will result not only in reduction of road accidents on these roads but also ensure smooth transition of modal change and better traffic management. Have such plans been put into place? It is not clear from the available information about the Metro.

Planning for parking spaces, changes in land use, and informal markets

As the metro runs through the commercial belt which is already short of parking space, provisions for vehicular parking space will be critical for its success. It will make a huge impact on its surrounding land-use, road pattern, traffic and lives of the people. Without adequate planning for parking space, roads abutting the metro line may see the flooding of vehicles as the parking space in the metro stations premises may not have the capacity to satisfy the needs of the expected ridership. These smaller roads around the Metro may also see changes in land use as more commercial and residential establishment’s crowd around metro stations.

Increase in pedestrian traffic will also likely encourage a thriving informal market in these areas as seen in Mumbai. Have these issues been considered while selecting the locations and planning the space requirement for Metro stations?

RtI Findings: Current space allotted for the Metro

The total floor areas of each metro station is as follows: The total floor areas mentioned in the table below are not final and may vary due to geometry of the locations and may change during construction due to technical parameters.

Proposed area statement for underground metro stations: Proposed area statement for elevated metro station
Name of the station Total Area (sq.m) S.No Name of the station Total Area (sq.m.)
1 Washermanpet 18,251 1 Little Mount 4,502
2 Mannadi 15,413 2 Guindy 6,164
3 High Court 16,939 3 Alandur 9,944
4 Chennai Central (2 stations) 70,060 4 OTA 4,417
5 Government Estate 15,628 5 Meenambakkam 5,367
6 LIC 16,055 6 Chennai Airport 14,437
7 Thousand Lights 14,639
8 Gemini 22,266
9 Teynampet 15,072
10 Chamiers Road 16,827
11 Saidapet 14,692
1 Egmore 13,715 1 Koyambedu 5143
2 Nehru Park 13,886 2 CMBT 5,845
3 KMC 14,457 3 Arumbakkam 4,624
4 Pachayappas College 13,343 4 Ashok Nagar- KK Nagar 8,684
5 Shenoy Nagar 22,985 5 Vadapalani 8,846
6 Annanagar East 16,240 6 SIDCO 4,171
7 Annanagar Tower 14,809 7 St. Thomas Mount (Combined MRTS & Metro Station) 31,048
8 Thirumangalam 15,134

Source: CMRL through RTI

Kindly note that the underground stations have a much larger area than the elevated stations as the areas above the station could also be used for parking and other facilities suitable to the site’s needs.  The Chennai Metro Rail is integrated with suburban rail at Chennai Central, Egmore, Guindy and St. Thomas Mount Stations. And the CMRL proposes to facilitate seamless integrated ticketing using smart cards through the coordination of the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) which has been set up recently by Government of Tamil Nadu under the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority Act, 2010.

Roshan Toshniwal