Monday, June 15

Metro = Safe?

This recent article points out that every year almost 4000 people die while commuting on the Mumbai local trains. On the other hand about 1800 people die on Delhi's roads each year. Both are alarming numbers.

This set me thinking that are metros (elevated or underground) safer for commuters? At present Delhi's Metro is about 74 kms long and 200 more will be added by 2010 end. And already there are plans to have another 100 km added in the next phase. Uptill now are hardly any reports of accidents while traveling but there have been some during construction.

While traveling on NYC subways, I would come across ads of legal firms who would offer services to victims who have been injured while traveling. There would also be one or two highly publicized cases in which they had won millions of dollars for their client. However a large proportion of these accidents happen when a traveler trips, falls, or slips on the stairway because they are in a hurry.

What would be interesting is to find out whether public transport systems are safer as a whole? This US study claims that it is, but then what about cities in India ? The problem is that most accidents go unreported or there is no proper study as yet. Maybe the number of accidents are less in the case of a train or a bus, but it might result in more deaths or injuries.

With the Metro expanding and the BRT spreading across several parts of the city, we would need to look at how to make traveling on them safer and convenient. And safety does not mean just accidents. We should also look at how safe it is for older people, women and children to travel on them. This was one of the reasons why many people shunned DTC and private buses. As it grows the Metro should make sure everyone enjoys the ride.

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