Chennai Metro may be costliest to travel

The maximum cost of Chennai Metro Rail may go up to ₹ 70 when the entire phase I project of 45 km is complete, sources said. Given the prevailing rates in the country, and not accounting for increases in other parts of the country, the special class fares in Chennai may turn out to be the highest for a metro rail service.

At present, the fares of Chennai Metro Rail range from ₹10-₹50 for normal class, depending on the distance covered, and double this amount for special class. Currently, the highest fare elsewhere in the country is ₹60, with the airport line in Delhi. That makes Chennai’s metro rail’s fares the costliest in the country already. So, the special class rate when the base tariff goes up to ₹70, would be ₹140.

“The discussions are on in this regard; this price may be only for those travelling distances of 24 km–45 km; People can save time when they travel by the Metro Rail for that distance,” an official said.

For instance, when the entire 45 km of phase I becomes operational, a person who travels from Washermanpet to Chennai Airport, a distance of about 25 km, he or she may have to pay ₹ 70. If they take the special class, then the fare is ₹ 140.

Experts say public transport, ideally, should not have such high pricing. Delhi Metro Rail, for instance, makes for a great example that shows Metro Rail running can be viable eventually, when the fares are affordable, they say.

Gitakrishnan Ramadurai of IIT Madras said public transport shouldn’t be expensive; across the world, several public transit systems operate under loss and subsidized by the government. “They may have arrived at such figures after conducting a demand-supply analysis to check how demand changes with variation of price,” he said.

He noted that since the cost of construction is high and the government has substantially pitched in at this stage, it may not be possible for them again to subsidies the cost of operations as well.

“It has a large network; the demand is high and therefore viable,” he said.

V. Thamizharasan, former professor transportation and engineering, IIT Madras, said, “Our cities have heterogeneous socioeconomic characteristics and public transport is expected to serve everyone and be reasonably priced. We need a clear policy on public transport pricing,” he said.