There is a visible increase in the number of Metro commuters after the completion of Phase 1 of the Bengaluru Metro Rail. The surge in the crowds, however, has created huge problems for commuters, especially those with disabilities.
People with disabilities say they find it difficult to use the Metro because they don't get offered a seat and also find it difficult to spot a safe point to stand in the crowded train. They are forced to cling on to the metal railings and hang in there till they reach their destination.
While the differently-abled have no complaints about the facilities provided at the Metro stations, they are appalled at the insensitivity and indifference of fellow commuters. Though there are regular announcements on the Metro, urging commuters to offer seats to women, senior citizens and people with disabilities, nobody pays heed to it, says Ajith Babu, who runs his own startup and is affected with cerebral palsy. Ajit says, "Metro has become very crowded and it is impossible to stand in one place without losing your balance. People push they way forward when getting into the Metro and also push their way out when getting off it. People like me can easily lose our balance. Citizens need to be more sensitive towards those with disabilities." He observes that there aren't enough washrooms for the differently-abled. "People with disabilities find it difficult to use the toilets like how normal people do. The existing washrooms aren't easily accessible for us," adds Ajit.
Udit Agarwal, a student who regularly commutes by Metro from Indiranagar to M G Road, says that while Metro stations are designed to be disabled-friendly, he finds the attitude of fellow commuters very disturbing. "I move around with the help of crutches and I don't get a seat as often and even the people are not very forthcoming about parting with their seats. I feel the citizens should be sensitive towards those with special needs," feels Udit. He says that although he manages to find a safe spot to stand, he feels that there maybe many others like him, who may require a seat.
The Metro commute is more stressful for those who are visually impaired like Roopashri Rao, a garment worker, who commutes from Baiyappanahalli to her workplace near Cubbon Park. "I travel alone and I never get offered a seat. I have also lost my balance and fallen twice because people push their way into the train," she says. She also points out that the security guards on duty on the platform aren't helpful. "The security personnel on the platform focus more on urging people to get into the train fast but never bother to help people with special needs get a seat. This is a big problem," she adds.
A senior official with BMRCL says all Metro stations are designed to be disabled-friendly.
"Ramp access has been provided, there are lifts with braille key buttons and we have at least three wheelchairs at each station kept at the ground level. Our staff have been trained in sign language and are also trained to assist those with special needs. They have to reach out to us whenever they need assistance," says a senior official.
Facilities available for people with disabilities at the Metro stations
Ramps (1/12 sloop) provided with handrails from the road level for all entry and lifts are located at the ground level.
At least three wheelchairs are available in each station.
For help the visually impaired, there is tactile flooring in the station.
There are designated parking for the differently-abled and the parking spaces are located close to the station. There is no parking fee for them.
Trains have a designated space for placing the wheelchair and locking it.