Locals hitch ride on East-West Metro inaugural run; catchment areas may drive footfall Times of India, 14 February 2020
KOLKATA: Even a day before East West Metro begins its commercial run from Friday, hundreds of Salt Lake residents, who had been waiting keenly for the start of the service for the last 12 years, hitched a ride on the train that railway minister Piyush Goyal took on Thursday evening, minutes before the service was inaugurated at Sector V station. Such was the rush that even some railway officials were forced to skip the journey as spirited passengers — some with their families and some on their way back from work — rushed into train compartments and jostled for space, taking selfies and making videos during the free ride between Sector V and City Centre stations. “On my way back from work, I just took a chance and entered the Sector V station to watch the inauguration. Much to my surprise I learned they were allowing some people to ride the train. Some of us asked if we can get in and we were allowed. It was an incredible journey. The stations and the train are spick and span and look the kind we see in movies. I will ride the train again on Friday with my family,” said Rupsa Basu, a school teacher and a resident of BL Block in Salt Lake. Among the others who took the fun ride on Thursday were hundreds of Metro employees and their family members who came all the way from housing complexes in Tollygunge and other areas just to get a feel of the new route. The first phase of the East West Metro line has been launched extensively through Salt Lake. But, paradoxically, its catchment areas are likely to be mainly drawn from the zones surrounding Salt Lake — people trying to use commercial and office zones located across Sector V, Karunnamoyee, Central Park and City Centre covering IT hubs, government offices and the Bidhannagar College. If the first day’s trend is anything to go by, the mere curiosity among locals, though, can help the Metro get off to a very positive start. According to sources, Karunamoyee — with the best access across Salt Lake — is likely to witness maximum footfall as several residential and commercial zones can be catered by it. But the City Centre station can score high as the locals’ favourite given that public transport here is linear and does not reach every block. “Locals can use rickshaws to reach the station and avail the service,” said Prashanta Banerjee, who is a resident of the FD block. The Metro authorities, themselves, will be keen to study the ridership at two stations — Salt Lake Stadium (located on EM Bypass) and Sector V. “The IT sector represents the youth, who has the power to spend. Hence, if they skip Ultadanga and start using this option, given that commuting to Sector V in autos and buses is often a nightmare, the Metro will get a significant ridership,” said an official. For retired residents, it can be a viable option as they visit government offices in the area. “I often visit offices like Bikash Bhavan and Mayukh Bhavan. Till now, I had to change two autos to get there from Bypass. From Friday, it’s just a matter of eight minutes,” said Saurabh Das, a Kasba resident. Download The Times of India News App for Latest City News.