Inaugurated in the year 1997, the Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System is a state owned subsidiary of the Indian Railways. It has the distinction of being the first elevated railway line operated in the country.
Even though it got its due expansion to its present state in 2007, the Chennai MRTS has in actuality failed to gather crowd and is termed as a flop investment by experts.
The project is built at a staggering cost of Rs. 11,710 crores.
The elevated railway line runs across the city limits from Chennai Beach in the north to Velachery in southern Chennai, covering a distance of approximately 20 kilometers with 17 stations.
The average ridership of Chennai MRTS is 76,000 passengers per day. The Chennai MRTS currently transports less than 25 percent of its projected passenger capacity.
Reasons for the low passenger count on the MRTS.
When inaugurated, the MRTS was designed to carry the passengers from north Chennai to the IT offices in the other part of the city, but it has not panned out in that manner as the IT executives used their own vehicles and public buses to commute as it was faster and easier to access.
The entire route of the Chennai MRTS has no major schools or colleges and thus students cannot avail the services of the rapid transit system during peak hours.
The other reason why the Chennai MRTS is deemed as a failure is because the roads along the entire length of the MRTS have been made into expressways where cars ply at high speeds and the commuters usually prefer going to their work places, either by driving or using pool car services.
The MRTS runs at an interval of fifteen minutes during peak hours and at an interval of twenty minutes during other timing, which makes the waiting commuters impatient and they tend to avoid the trains.
Unlike the Chennai Metro which intersects the important stations and bus terminals, the Chennai MRTS does not integrate with other modes of transportation in the city.
There have been plenty of criticisms regarding the MRTS with the prime factor being the inadequacy and ill maintenance of the stations and the lack of passengers during peak hours.
Some stations lack proper and safe approach roads, thus deterring passengers from reaching the stations.
Saidai Nakeeran, who has been working at the Indiranagar MRTS station as ticket distributor for the past 6 years says that the MRTS should be connected to the newly built Chennai Metro to increase its passenger count as it will not only benefit the MRTS’s ridership but also the Chennai Metro’s footfall.
“Although the MRTS is never crowded, we have seen a number of passengers during peak hours, but during the night, the station becomes desolate and security on the platforms must be increased, especially for woman.” said, Shilpa Prakash Satish who works in the TIDEL IT Park and uses the MRTS to commute daily.