When the Delhi Metro announced the first phase of fare hike, to be implemented in May this year, little did 22-year-old Neelam realise its impending impact on the atmosphere at her home. With Phase II of fare hike in place since Tuesday, the student of Ambedkar University has now moved from the Metro to DTC buses to commute from Shadipur to Kashmere Gate.
“Out of irritation, sometimes my parents say how my education is costing them a lot more than they can afford. I understand their frustration…we are three siblings and my father earns Rs 15,000 a month. Metro travel is unaffordable,” said Neelam.
Before May, she spent Rs 30 daily on Metro commute; after the first hike, it became Rs 40; and now it’s up to Rs 60 — forcing several students like Neelam to move to DTC buses.
“The frequency of buses is very poor… travel time has gone up to two hours from one hour. Plus, I have been harassed… badtameezi kaafi hoti hai auraton ke saath bus mein,” said Jyoti, 21, who travels from Rohini to North Campus daily, and did not take the Metro on Tuesday.
As a reaction to the fare hike in May, 22-year-old IGNOU student Sachin Singh Bhandari formed the Delhi Metro Commuters’ Association. “I have been taking the Metro for years but this fare hike has forced many students like me to turn to buses which take longer, are not comfortable and are unsafe. A lot of students are protesting with us across stations…we hope they roll back the fare hike,” he said.
Rohit Singh (22), who is pursuing his Masters’ degree in Hindi from Jamia Millia Islamia and lives in Nangloi, said he now changes four buses to get to college every day. “My father is a labourer and until the first phase of the fare hike, he supported my intention of travelling so far away to study. But now, I can’t ask him for money. I leave at 6 am and still end up missing my first class… We will just have to forget all about the Metro, it’s not for us,” said Singh. The fare in his route — Nangloi to Govindpuri — has increased from Rs 30 to Rs 50 and now Rs 60, since May.
Vivek Kumar, 20, a student of Motilal Nehru College, said, “I am taking buses now… the traffic jams ensure I am an hour or more late.”