On Tuesday morning, 28-year-old Abdul Wajid — a labourer working at a cardboard boxes factory in Naraina — did not take the Metro to work. Nor did 35-year-old Brijmohan Tiwari, a security guard who lives in Janakpuri. It was the first day of the second phase of the Delhi Metro fare hike, in which the ticket prices went up by a maximum of Rs 10. So, the two took buses instead.
“I leave home at 9.30 am and take a Metro from Chawri Bazar to Shadipur, and then a bus from there to the factory. It takes me 50 minutes. Now, I have to take a bus and it will take me 90 minutes or more. But I can’t afford Metro anymore,” said Wajid, who earns Rs 10,000 a month. “Before May, when the first hike took place, a ticket cost Rs 15; after May it cost Rs 20, and now it is Rs 30.”
For Vicky, a 22-year-old resident of Khajuri, who polishes furniture, work takes him across the city, and the Metro is the obvious choice. “But now I hope I don’t have to travel far from home… Earlier I would spend Rs 27 from Kashmere Gate to HUDA City Centre, but now it’s Rs 60. I earn Rs 12,000 every month,” he said. What is fair in metro fares?
It’s the same for Tiwari, who is placed across Gurgaon, Noida, Connaught Place and Tilak Nagar, every few weeks. “With the Metro, I thought my standard of living had improved, but now I am back to taking buses. In May, I wanted to resign because I couldn’t afford the commute. I earn Rs 11,000 and spent Rs 1,300 on the Metro last month… this doesn’t include bus and auto fares.”
Amid opposition from the Delhi government, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on Tuesday went ahead with the fare hike as recommended by the fourth Fare Fixation Committee. “Labourers are the worst hit. Our salaries are not increasing but the cost of living is constantly going up,” said 25-year-old Raja, who travels from Shadipur to Faridabad and now plans to resort to buses instead.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission for Women claimed that a survey conducted by it found that a hike in the Metro fare will compromise “women’s safety”. With a database of 2,516 women across 36 Metro stations in the city, it was found that the hike will force 68.68 per cent women to adopt less safe modes of transportation. It would would also create impact their household expenses, the survey found.
There was a demand for immediate rollback of the hike by 96.98 per cent of the women who were surveyed. “This fare hike is a draconian step by the Centre and a highly anti-women measure. At a time when six rapes and several cases of eve-teasing and harassment are reported each day, the fare hike has forced women to go back to less safe modes of transportation,” said DCW chief Swati Maliwal.