Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Bangalore International Airport - Part II

Well well well. So I had another experience with the much criticized new Bangalore International Airport. I had had my first experience last Saturday and it was a pleasant one. You can read about it here.

Now the experience I had yesterday was going to be a real test because I was to travel to receive dad on a weekday. Anyone who has stayed in Bangalore for even a day would realise the kind of traffic I am referring to when I say that we were to leave home at 8pm. The flight was to land at 10pm, so I thought that would give us enough time to get to the airport.

We went via the Old Madras road route. Thanks to a friend, I learnt of a new route, and avoided the jam at the under-bridge on the Old Madras road. We cut into NGEF colony and went onto join the Outer Ring Road beyond the flyover. From there, even though there was a lot of truck traffic, we were at Hebbal in 45 minutes. From Hebbal the new airport is a cool 23 kms. Since that lies on the National Highway to Hyderabad, we managed to cover the distance in good time and made it to the airport in a total time of 1 hour and 20 minutes! The best part is that the last 8kms is off the highway and in the airport complex, so is very smooth.

I once again found the airport to be very well done up. It looks an impressive structure and the movement of passengers is much smoother than the old dilapidated airport. There are a few things I noticed that could be improved, but then the airport only just opened up so it should be given some time to come up to full steam.

The journey back was even more pleasant. We left the airport at 3 minutes past 11pm and travelled with our windows down, enjoying the cool Bangalore winds. We went straight through Hebbal this time and headed to Mekri circle. Before we knew it, we had reached Ulsoor and then was the home stretch. We managed to make it home (without crossing the speed limits anywhere) in 55 minutes!!!

Now I must point out that the old airport was a mere 2 kms from my house, so if anyone should have a grouse about the airport shifting 45 kms away, it should have been me. But I believe, the new airport makes air travel more comfortable and so travelling an hour to get to the airport is a small price to pay. Lets look at Singapore and Malaysia (the only two countries I have been to outside India) and you will notice that the airport is outside the main city. In Malaysia, the international airport is 50kms south of Kuala Lumpur and it takes over an hour to get to the city. Similarly in Singapore the international airport is 20kms from the commercial center and it takes almost an hour to reach the airport there.

If Bangalore is to grow practically and expand logically, the citizines have to realise that the airport should not be in the city center. As responsible citizines, we should all give the new airport some time to grow. After all, no new venture is perfect when it is launched, there will be some teething problems which can be resolved with time. It is certainly a better experience than the old airport, where at peak times people would be packed in like sardines, much like the peak time traffic on Mumbai locals!

I would like to end by mentioning that I am not in favour of the UDF (User Development Fees) being levied on the passengers.

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