IN THE hustle of the underground platform at the busy Rajiv Chowk Metro station, 67-year-old Rajnish Dewan lets go of three packed trains headed to HUDA City Centre. As the fourth train chugs in, yet again packed due to the morning rush hour, Dewan sighs and nudges his way into the coach next to the women’s compartment. Like most senior citizens, Dewan is not a big fan of the Metro. “But on hot summer days, the jostle is better than the bumpy bus ride to anywhere,” he says. Dewan adds, “After my heart surgery, doctors told me to avoid driving. So I usually take an auto or a bus. The Metro is comfortable late at night or in the middle of the afternoon when it is not so crowded. But during office hours, taking a Metro is a nightmare as people push you around on the platforms or inside the train. It is meant for the young and hardy and not for frail old men like me.” Uma Chanda, 63, echoes Dewan. “I rarely venture out without company. When I travel with my grandchildren, they make sure I get a seat. But the rush is so bad, I fear there will be a stampede any minute.”
A study of the commuter profile by the DMRC in 2016 reveals that senior citizens make up only 1 per cent of the total ridership. If the average daily ridership of the Metro stands at 28 lakh passengers per day, only 28,000 of them are senior citizens. The study also stated that 88 per cent of Delhi Metro commuters are below the age of 40. Despite requests from senior citizens for a separate coach or space in the reserved ladies’ coach, DMRC has decided against it considering the low ridership figures and not wanting to compromise on the safety of women. “There is no way to determine the age of a person. Men who are not senior citizens can get into the women’s coach and that could lead to security issues. The ridership of senior citizens is so low that a separate coach will not be financially viable,” Sharat Sharma, Director (Operations), DMRC, said.