Life After Metro: Will Bengaluru, Mumbai See Dramatic Improvement In Quality Of Life Once Expansive Metro Networks Are Operational?


In addition to enhancing the mobility patterns, the metro networks in these megacities have also brought wider changes to its surrounding areas, elevating many regions and populations through its advanced infrastructure.

The expansion of metropolitan cities with rapid population growth and continuous advancement in infrastructure, have been the defining features of India’s economic growth story.

Part of this infrastructure growth has led to greater investments in mass rapid transit systems — with the Metro as one of the fastest growing infrastructure developments, to create sustainable urban transport systems in the megacities.

The Delhi Metro stands as the prime example of these systems as it effectively scaled transit connections for Delhi and the surrounding National Capital Region (NCR).

It started in 2002 and with its tremendous expansion, the widespread network has mapped major areas of Delhi through a network of 12 lines, running across 390 km.

Meanwhile, looking at Bengaluru and Mumbai, the scope of the proposed and evolving metro networks seek similar or even more significant changes to the transportation requirements and the overall urban environment of these cities.

The Bengaluru metro, popularly known as the Namma Metro has an accelerating impact on mobility needs of the city populations. Currently, with two operational lines, it spans a distance of around 55 km.

This includes the purple line connecting east to west at a stretch of 25.7 km and the green line running a stretch of 30.37 km.

Over the years, the network has added three more lines — undergoing construction and another in planning phase — which together are expected to complete a network of 175 km by 2025.

In Mumbai, the proposed metro network is spread across 14 lines, with the objective of connecting maximum regions, from the Mumbai Islands to the suburban regions.

The network has three operational lines currently, covering 46.5 km, while 145.1 km of network is under construction. Further, the remaining lines are in proposal and tendering stages covering length of 103 km and 42.4 km respectively.

The overall network, in its entirety, is perceived with a grand vision aimed to provide alternatives to the Mumbai suburban lines and the city’s overwhelming congested roads.

In addition to enhancing the mobility patterns, the metro networks in these megacities have also brought wider changes to its surrounding areas, elevating many regions and populations through its advanced infrastructure and opening up numerous opportunities in terms of commercial and economic potential. (Read more about it)

The Concentrated Urbanisation In India

Despite the success of the Delhi Metro, the city still grapples with various urban challenges brought about by its growth.

This brings the question about whether Bengaluru and Mumbai will experience an improved quality of life after the expansive metro networks are fully operational, or is it necessary to address the various other development aspects that stands equally crucial for achieving the desired living standards in Indian megacities.

Apart from mass transit systems, to reach the standards of our envisioned future cities, many larger cities are still under various challenges in terms of planning and governance. These include:

  • Policy and infrastructure for last mile connectivity
  • Safer street designs for pedestrianisation and NMV modes of transit
  • Housing resources and social spaces
  • Countering increasing pollution
  • Accessibility to fundamental resources
  • Land availability and spatial quality
  • Efficient infrastructure for civic amenities — water supply, drainage
  • Growing need of waste management systems

The metropolitan cities remain the economic engines of the country and consequently, are at the forefront of maximum growth and development in India.

However, this has also emerged as a significant issue in the Indian urban landscape, as not only transit infrastructure, but also other essential facilities are concentrated in the megacities and their surrounding areas, making them the only hub for all opportunities.

The advancements, solely centered to the megacities to improve ease of living, further attracts population and resource migration, and continuously creates demands for further developments to accommodate this growth.

Thus, in order to achieve the desirable city infrastructure, these cities will have to constantly undergo such advancements and transformations — thus, it remains under pressure to face the congestion, traffic, pollution and more such livability challenges.

Focus On Vibrant Economic Expansion

The idea of concentrated development inclined towards the megacities, needs to be relooked, through a developing vibrant economic matrix, for holistic development.

To address these issues, it is necessary to promote sustainable features and advanced infrastructure in mid-sized and growing cities, enabling them to provide better facilities and growth opportunities to the people.

The economic push will create opportunities for smaller cities to interact with advanced infrastructure and attract resource investments beyond the metropolitan cities in the country.

Additionally, the central government’s push for greenfield cities proposed at various industrial corridors, is also envisioned to support this economic and development vibrancy.

As alternative centres of growth, the tier 2 and tier 3 cities will be able to counter population explosion and can be the avenues for new ideas, innovations and economic growth.

Thus, the government should consider giving priority to such cities while allocating funds, for development of land, housing and infrastructure.

The growth of smaller cities indicates a wider distribution of wealth and resources and defines an overall growth for the nation’s economy and quality of living.

Currently, there are over 350 urban agglomerations in India, rapidly emerging in the last 20 years. About 30 per cent of the urban population of India lives in them, and with urban India expected to contribute nearly two-thirds of GDP, these smaller cities can counter the burden of metropolitans.