While the state government has allowed electric bike taxis in the city, commuters feel more transport options are needed to and from Metro stations to ensure better first and last-mile connectivity. Namma Metro has been operational since 2011 but its users have been complaining about the poor frequency of BMTC feeder services. The corporation used to run 173 Metro feeder buses before the pandemic; the number has dipped to 39. “Most of these services are running under loss, so it is difficult to increase the frequency. Demand has also reduced after Covid. If BMRCL provides Viability Gap Funding, we could operate more services,” said a senior BMTC official.
BMRCL had earlier tied up with rental scooter companies like Bounce and Yulu at some stations, but only a few locations have the facility now. Several firms such as Loca Rides (cab sharing) and electric auto services like PepRide and HAIL App by Namma Auto have wound up operations.
Metro Phase 1’s daily ridership was 5 lakh in February 2020. Following the pandemic and work-from-home concept, it has dropped to 1.2 lakh. A 2016 survey by World Resources Institute found that 70% of potential Bengaluru Metro users cited poor first-and last-mile connectivity as a reason for not using it. The ridership shortfall was attributed to a lack of comprehensive firstand last-mile solutions to connect homes and offices with Metro stations.
A BMRCL official said: “We have provided bus bays at new Phase 2 stations and had tied up with firms like Bounce and Yulu. We are not in a position to provide VGF to BMTC since we have also incurred losses. BMTC is operating buses based on their traffic survey. We are open to working with different stakeholders to improve first-and last-mile connectivity.”
Need more support from BMRCL, say companies
Girish Nagpal, CEO & founder of Metroride, which operates electric autos, said: “We have deployed 40 e-autos at two stations: Konanakunte Cross and Yelachenahalli. Services will start at Indiranagar and Rajajinagar soon. We are charging a minimum fare of Rs 10. The response from Metro users has been good, but we need more support from BMRCL for pick-up and drop-off points and also for creating awareness among passengers.”
A startup which used to provide last-mile connectivity said: “It was not viable to run the service, especially after the pandemic. But BMRCL neither provided a parking space or its ridership data, nor created awareness at Metro stations.”
BMTC officials said there are no bus bays at most Metro stations. “We are planning to induct 90 non-AC midi electric feeder buses from next month,” said an official. With most stations not equipped with parking facilities, regular Metro users say BMRCL should encourage electric shared autos, electric midi buses and prepaid auto counters. Implementation of common mobility card will also help, they add.