Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. plans to put up more kiosks in phase I and phase I extension stations to attract more commuters and boost the numbers to the pre-COVID levels.
Although far less than the projected numbers, in early 2020, the CMRL had an average of 1.25 lakh passengers a day before the lockdown was announced and in the last one-and-a-half years, the patronage had been dismal as commuters desisted from taking the tube trains.
In the last few months, as the number of cases dipped, more and more commuters returned to Metro Rail, with the number touching one lakh passengers on weekdays. To boost these numbers and to offset the losses caused by the lockdown and raise revenue, the CMRL has invited firms to put up retail outlets in 15 underground and elevated stations, including Alandur, Little Mount, New Washermenpet, Tondiarpet, Wimco Nagar, St. Thomas Mount, Kilpauk, Pachaiyappa's College, Shenoy Nagar, Nehru Park, Thirumangalam, Anna Nagar East, Anna Nagar Tower, Ekkatuthangal and Nanganallur Road.
According to officials, the chosen bidders would be given spaces in concourse (where tickets are issued) and street levels. Depending on the size of the station and space available, 10 to 20 sq m will be provided for the kiosks.
Although there are kiosks, a lot of area is yet to be taken in many stations.
But firms are keen on having outlets at the street level because Metro Rail’s patronage is still poor and not enough to sustain the business. For the underground stations, spaces are preferred at the street level wherever available.
Jahabar Sadiq of Chai Kings says they have six outlets and were interested in putting up more kiosks too. “But it makes sense to have the kiosks at the street level because only then we can cater to general public and Metro commuters. Street food and beverages are bestsellers for such systems and get more visibility at the street level,” he says.