Saturday, February 25, 2012

My first Namma Metro ride!

On January 19th 2012, I got the chance to travel in Bengaluru's very new metro train: Namma Metro. Only the small section of the route from Byappanahalli to MG Road was open at that time. Much of the metro route is still under construction and not operational.

(Click on the album above to see the photos in bigger size!)

It cost Rs 15 (about 0.30 US dollars or 30 cents) to travel from Byappanhalli to MG Road. And the entire journey was less than 15 minutes! Unfortunately, the journey was at night, on the last train leaving Byappanahalli at 10 PM. So, I did not get to see and take photos of the Bengaluru city views from train, which runs on elevated tracks for most of its route.

The metro train stations as well as the train were nice and clean. In fact, the stations were so new, some sections were still under construction and not open for public use. The train was very similar to the metro trains I have seen in the US. One curious difference - it appeared that the trains compartments were open from one end of the train to the other, and you could move from one compartment to the next from inside the train. This is not the case with the metro trains I have seen in the US. You cannot move from one compartment to the next from inside because each compartment has the driver's cabin at both ends, which makes it convenient to drive the train in either direction without having to turn the whole train around. So, does this mean that Namma Metro's compartments have the driver's cabin at only one end? I don't know. Hope someone can clarify.

Another curious thing - the security guard at the MG Road station was not pleased that I took photos at the railway station. He told me that we were not allowed to take any photos within the railway stations, but we could take photos of the train outside the station. Doesn't make sense to me. If this rule is for the sake of the security of the railway stations, it is not very effective. A person who wants to cause harm can easily take as many photos as he/she wants inside the railway station without being obvious about it.

Before riding the metro train, you have to pass your bag through the X-ray scanner and you have to go through a metal detector yourself. So, forget about getting to the station at the last minute and hopping on to a train in a hurry.

The last part of this story is not a happy one. I rode this train when returning from a friend's house near Byappanahalli. I had gone to the friend's house earlier in the evening, by autorickshaw from Indiranagar. At that time, the rush hour traffic was too heavy and the auto was literally crawling. I noticed the Indiranagar metro station on the way, and asked the auto driver to drop me off there so that I could take the train to the Byappanahalli station. I figured correctly that the train would be much faster than the auto caught in rush hour traffic. The driver told me that only the MG Road and Byappanahalli stations were operational, and none of the stations en route were open to the public yet. That was a big fat lie! I found out when returning by train later in the night that the Indiranagar station was very much open. Not only did the auto driver lie to me and made me pay his fare all the way to Byappanahalli, when we reached there, he claimed not to have change for the money I gave him and pocketed the remaining amount. In total, he swindled Rs 28 out of me. That's only little over half a dollar, but the fact of being cheated by an autorickshaw driver in my own native city is hard to digest. Plus, the auto driver was obviously not a native of Bengaluru! And, he cut into the precious time I got to spend with my friend and his family. Grrr!

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