Empty Station Draws No Customer: Bike Rental Scheme Fail?


When I chose to visit Ekkattuthangal metro station this morning to report on their newly launched bike rental scheme, I did not clearly know what I was expecting to see. Perhaps a neat row of colourful bicycles and eager commuters milling around. Instead, what welcomed me was a near empty-station.

Where are the bicycles? Where are the morning commuters? Aren’t they eager to give this a go?

I realised soon, apparently not.

Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) launched a bike rental scheme earlier this week, much alike to Delhi’s initiative in 2015. As of now, there are 10 bicycles stationed at Ekkattuthangal metro station to be hired on paying a security deposit of Rs. 3000.

I was equal parts curious and dumbstruck. Are people willing to shell out such a big sum to hire a bicycle. My answer was waiting for me when I reached the station.

I walked the stretch under the bridge twice, obviously lost. After much mindless wandering and failing to find the phantom bicycles, I was directed towards the little police kiosk and Customer Care booth inside the station building.

I was disappointed.

The bicycles were nowhere to be seen. Infact, no one had rented the bicycles yet. Such was the scenario that they had locked up the bicycles in a store room. That was when I began meeting the commuters. Some were aware about the rental system, some were not, others did not care.

They were disappointed – too costly, too much hassle. They channeled the same thoughts that had been clouding me too. “Is it really worth the money?”

So in the end, neither did I get to see the bicycles I was looking forward to, nor meet someone who had actually rented it. I could have almost settled for someone who would perhaps agree to sleep on the idea.

But so far, it seems, CMRL’s plan to bring about eco-friendly changes have failed to work its charm on the residents of Chennai


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