At long last, after the passing of a half dozen deadlines for its inauguration, Bengaluru’s Namma Metro (bmrc.co.in) is set to be operational. The elevated 7km stretch that went live on October 20 connects the central MG Road area with Byappanahalli on the eastern edge of the city. This provides quick access to an industrial and technological hub and brings the fine dining and shopping of Indiranagar to within ten minutes from MG Road (otherwise half an hour in traffic after negotiations with whimsical auto-rickshaw drivers). Metro tokens are priced between Rs 10 and Rs 15.

Bengaluru’s Metro is suitably hi-tech, in keeping with the city’s image: wi-fi internet access, on-board CCTV and emergency voice communication, smart-card tickets that can be topped up online or through SMS, and even defibrillators at stations for the unhappy consequences of commuter’s sprint.

The Metro’s effect on road traffic and its real usefulness to tourists are likely to be felt only after more of the network is in place. Phase I is expected to be complete by mid-2013, with east-west and north-south lines together extending to 42km and intersecting at the traditional nerve-centre of the city, Majestic, where the main railway and bus stations are located.

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