Without any formal inauguration and celebration, the long-awaited Whitefield-Challaghatta Namma Metro corridor (Purple Line) quietly commenced operations on Monday (October 9) at 5 a.m., seamlessly connecting the eastern and western parts of Bengaluru.
Metro commuters, who had patiently waited for months, were delighted to finally travel hassle-free from Krishnarajapura to Baiyappanahalli (a distance of 2.1 km) and Kengeri to Challaghatta (a distance of 2.05 km), escaping the usual traffic congestion in east Bengaluru.
Many others rejoiced at the seamless direct link between Challaghatta and Whitefield, completing a total stretch of 43.49 km with 37 stations. The journey, covering the entire distance in 76 minutes, comes at a fixed end-to-end fare of ₹60.
“This was great news to wake up to. I used to take the metro from Indiranagar to Baiyappanahalli every day and then rely on buses to reach the office. With the metro now extended to Whitefield, travelling has become much more convenient,” Aditya Singh, a tech professional told The Hindu.
“Travelling the entire stretch without encountering traffic or getting stuck in pollution was a fantastic experience. It highlights the crucial role of the metro in a city like Bengaluru. I used to navigate multiple modes of transport from my home in Vijayanagar to reach Whitefield, but now it’s much more convenient. BMRCL should adhere to deadlines and expedite the completion of all metro stretches, especially the yellow line, as it would benefit many people and alleviate traffic congestion,” said Prashanth Varma, a commuter from Vijayanagar. The yellow line connects R. V. Road and Bommasandra.
In the Kengeri to Challaghatta stretch, commuters, especially those travelling towards Mysuru Road, expressed their contentment. Ashok Krishnamurthy, a commuter, shared, “The metro has become significantly more convenient and serves as the lifeline of the city. Previously, I used to disembark at Kengeri station, but now I can alight at Challaghatta since my home is close to the metro station.”
Poor crowd management by BMRCL
Meanwhile, around 10 a.m. on Monday, following the commencement of trains towards Whitefield on the Purple Line, the Majestic station witnessed a significant crowd, which the crew struggled to manage. Commuters complained that despite trains running every three minutes during peak hours, the BMRCL failed to handle the overwhelming crowd.
“Though we are happy to see that the metro is now running full stretch, which will be helping a lot of people, the crowd at Majestic interchange station during peak hours is quite chaotic. The BMRCL seemed unprepared for the magnitude of the crowd and lacked effective strategies to manage it, such as increasing train frequency or implementing crowd control measures,” said Gayathri Rao, a regular commuter.
Trisha Pandit, another commuter, expressed concern, stating, “The risk of stampede at Majestic station is alarmingly high. Planning for crowd management by BMRCL has been woefully insufficient and does not seem to be improving any time soon.”
The much-anticipated inauguration of these two metro stretches has now taken a political colour.
After the State government requested clearance from the Union government to inaugurate these stretches on October 5, there was a surprising turn of events. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) responded on Sunday, stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would formally dedicate these stretches to the nation in two weeks. They also directed officials to commence passenger operations immediately. In the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, both parties have been vying for credit regarding the city’s infrastructure developments.
Prior to the announcement of the Karnataka Assembly elections, on March 25, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the metro line stretching from K.R. Pura to Whitefield, covering a distance of 13.71 km and featuring 12 stations. However, a segment of approximately 2 km between Baiyappanahalli and K.R. Pura remained closed due to pending work.
On Monday, the BMRCL did not allow photojournalists to take pictures of the newly inaugurated metro stations, as sources said that the management intended today’s opening to be a quiet event, whereas the grand official inauguration would take place within two weeks, led by Mr. Modi and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.