The Hinjawadi IT Park has been around for close to 13 years now and has scaled up to 3 phases over these years. It not only houses some of the world’s largest IT companies but has a large number of manufacturing units, massive residential townships, premier colleges and schools.
With over 4-5 lakh people travelling from the city to the Hinjawadi IT Park and back every day, the road infrastructure is unable to match up to the vehicular traffic leading to chronic jams, large fuel bills and a whole lot of stress. Lack of good public transport adds to this problem forcing people to use their own vehicles for their daily commute.
All IT and other companies in the area came together under the Hinjawadi Industries Association (HIA) banner to brainstorm solutions to mitigate the traffic issues faced by their employees. HIA experimented with realigning shifts to spread out the employee movement during peak hours, encouraging carpool amongst their employees and even plying large buses instead of multiple smaller vehicles to reduce the congestion. While these initiatives had a small effect on the traffic situation, HIA’s masterstroke was the birth of MetroZip – a shuttle service that aims to replace the independent fleets of each company and consolidate all employee movement.
MetroZip’s idea looked very good on paper however the initial few weeks in 2014 had some teething issues. There were a lot of complaints by employees of delays, overcrowding and non-availability of buses on certain routes. Gradually, through 2015, the MetroZip operations were streamlined and more routes and buses were added.
I have been working out of Hinjawadi for the last 12 years and driven to work for at least 10 of those. I had been contemplating on using MetroZip for the last few months however never registered for it. Finally, 2 weeks back, I signed up for it as I just couldn’t get myself to drive to Hinjawadi every day in the terrible traffic. I’ve been using the MetroZip service for the last 2 weeks and here’s my take on it –
What I liked!
- Clean buses with standardised branding for easy identification
41 routes (with additional sub-routes) to cover every inch of the city – this is critical as the service extends to areas usually not covered by IT companies for their transport operations
- Flexibility to use any bus on any route. For eg. even if my regular route is from Baner, I can use the Viman Nagar route on any given day
- Extremely competitive rates. For eg. Kothrud is approx. 20 km from Hinjawadi and a 2-way monthly pass is available for ₹1135 (discounted price for companies who have >500 employees using MetroZip)
- Alternate options for a one-way pass, 15 or 90 days pass and super short route pass for people staying in Hinjawadi
- Some IT companies offer a day care for employee’s children so even children are allowed on MetroZip (for a fee of course)
- GPS enabled buses can be tracked by a mobile app to know exactly where the bus is (feature under beta as of now, will have full launch in a month or so)
- NFC enabled ID Cards issued to all users that are swiped by the bus monitors upon boarding and before alighting
- Travel time for most routes is within 10-15 minutes of usual time taken by personal vehicles which is quite acceptable considering much reduced fuel costs and no stress of driving through traffic
- For every employee who ditches their personal vehicle for MetroZip, the Hinjawadi traffic situation improves bit-by-bit
Some improvement areas
- Certain buses are perpetually late and unable to cover up the time en-route as they use the main roads during peak hours. Need to break these routes in sub-routes to reduce pick up points
- No clear policy on additional buses in cases where there is no space left on the primary bus. Some bus drivers coordinate with nearby vehicles and adjust people during pickups however I know of cases where users are left stranded without a bus during drops
- Charging points and Wi-Fi on these buses will help attract more employees to use this service
- Summer is here so the option of AC buses must be introduced soon
- Sheltered stops in Hinjawadi will help during summer and monsoon as a large number of people gather at these stops during drops
- Card readers should be installed near the bus doors for convenience
I am happy that I finally opted to use MetroZip over driving to work every day. It has reduced my fuel bills by 75%, keeps my energy levels up even after a long day at work and gives me the satisfaction that I am contributing in a small way towards improving the traffic chaos in Hinjawadi.
This post first appeared on thepunekar.com.