Sunday, March 09, 2008

Keep HAL open till connectivity improves

Keep HAL open till connectivity improves

On November 7, 2007, The Times of India conducted an exercise to see how long it would take to get to the new airport from different points in the city. And found that it could take between two and three hours, through harrowing traffic, from places like Electronic City, JP Nagar and Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
We, as indeed most Bangaloreans, thought that finding would push the government into quick action, so that by the time the airport opens, the infrastructure would be good enough to enable passengers to reach the airport within about an hour, which by international norms is seen as a reasonable time.
But that wasn’t to be. The government did think of the “magic box” technology to construct three underpasses along Sankey Road, connecting to Bellary Road and the airport. Beyond that though, almost nothing has been done. The proposal to build a new expressway to the airport has made absolutely no progress. An official of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the organization expected to be entrusted with the task of building the expressway, says they have received no instructions on the matter.
Upgradation of alternative roads to Devanahalli via Whitefield and Hoskote too has made little progress.
What this means is that, for Bangaloreans, especially those in the south and east of the city — the IT belt which hosts the largest proportion of frequent flyers — the commute to the new airport would be nothing short of a nightmare.
TOI has also time and again pointed out that the distance to the new airport and the cost involved in it could make the business of short-haul flights unviable. And there is already some evidence that people are shying away from buying air tickets to and from places like Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi and Mangalore for the period after March 30.
Given all that, the government should seriously consider keeping the HAL airport open — at least for short-haul flights — till such time that quick and cost-effective connectivity to the new airport is in place. Yes, the commitment to BIAL to close HAL to commercial air traffic must be honoured. But it cannot come at the cost of public convenience.
Kind attention, all passengers travelling from Bengaluru International Airport Bangalore-Chennai
Flight: 22 daily flights Lowest price: Rs 500 Max price: Rs 1,825 Taxes (HAL): Passenger service fee Rs 225 + congestion surcharge Rs 150 + fuel surcharge Rs 1,650 = Rs 2,025 Lowest ticket price:
Rs 2,525 Max ticket price: Rs 3,850 Taxes (BIAL): Passenger service fee Rs 225 + congestion surcharge Rs 150 + fuel surcharge Rs 1,650 + User development fee Rs 758 (Rs 675+ 12.24% service tax) = Rs 2,783 Lowest ticket price: Rs 3,283 Max ticket price: Rs 4,608 BUS
Volvo A/C Deluxe:
Rs 621
7 daily services A/C Sleeper:
Rs 700
Rs 700
(Note: All fares mentioned above were checked for travel on March 8)


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