Art Chennai had left the works at the stations permanently but today, many of them have been vandalised. "It is wrong to say that railway authorities alone are responsible for maintenance. Railways is a public property and the masses of our country should learn to take ownership. These are prime locations and just because these spaces are dirty, many interesting players may keep off these spaces. People need to take charge and understand that cleanliness works at an individual level as well," says Sanjay.
The Delhi Metro has successfully let out spaces to leading outlets in the above mentioned category and the story has been quite a success. Guruprasad Acharya, Business Development Manager, Sangeetha Group of Restaurants, feels that private players should get space to operate fairly in spaces such as these. "We had a chain of stalls near Beach and Central station. But problem comes when government canteens come up, where the same food and beverage items are sold at a very cheap rate. A restaurant like ours has a standardised quality and it cannot bow down to pressures of price. Private players would be interested in a levelplaying ground, where both the retailers and customers are benefitted. When quality is there, people from all classes will be interested in it, says Guruprasad, who seks for greater participation of the private sector in such spaces.
JLL, which is the consultant to Chennai Metro, is currently advising on the feasibility of property developments on the land parcels adjacent to the stations. " Taking a cue from the MRTS story, Metro stations are now planned such a way that passenger movement is well integrated with retail activities. A proper study of the profile of passengers, population of the local catchment area and demand for real estate activities has been undertaken. This entails first identifying the type of activity in each of the stations depending on the ridership pattern, micro-market characteristics, the profile of commuters and their purpose of travel," says Sarita. "Based on these parameters, the type of space that can garner good footfalls as well as act as anchor spaces has to be identified for retail development. For any transit-oriented development to be successful, both station activity and commercial activity should complement each other and benefit from the other. Another important factor is the maintenance of these spaces. Professional maintenance agencies would need to be appointed to ensure that all areas are usable to ensure patronage from passengers for the retail formats," she says. Gathering best practices and effective implementation will make sure that public spaces in Chennai are taken to a different level.