Eight months after the fare hike, the Delhi Metro’s ridership figures show no signs of recovery, with the capital’s ‘lifeline’ losing up to five lakh commuters as compared to last year in terms of daily ridership.
The assessment of data obtained through an RTI application shows that even the onset of summer hasn’t helped Metro regain its commuters. The months of March, April and May saw a 17% dip in ridership as compared to 2017.
Calling the development “extremely worrying”, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot blamed the Centre for the situation.
This year, March and April saw a total of 22 lakh and 22.67 lakh commuters travel on Metro’s five corridors — Yellow, Blue, Red, Green and Violet — on a daily basis. In May, the figure was around 22.5 lakh. Last year, when fares were considerably lower, 27.6 lakh people took the same corridors in March, while the daily average ridership in April was 27.5 lakh. In May 2017, the same was 26.5 lakh.
According to Metro’s estimates, which are also a part of the Delhi government’s outcome Budget, ridership was supposed to touch the 30 lakh mark by now. The situation is such that in 2015, when the DMRC network was much shorter in length with fewer stations, around 23.03 lakh rode in March; 24.51 lakh in April; and 23.93 lakh in May.
“The decline in ridership in peak summer months is extremely worrying, though unsurprising. Right from the beginning, public transport experts, common citizens and the AAP government had opposed the 100% Metro fare hike brought about last year. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) implemented this hike on the Centre’s insistence. If over 5 lakh people have switched from public to private transport, then only the Centre is responsible. At a time when some cities around the world are making public transport totally free, DMRC can still make amends and reduce its fares to gain ridership,” Gahlot told The Indian Express.
Till September last year, Metro registered a steady rise in ridership. In July, August and September, the daily average ridership figures were 26.9 lakh, 28.5 lakh and 27.4 lakh respectively. October 2017 — when Metro’s second round of fare hike was implemented — marked the first major dip, with ridership crashing to 24.2 lakh.
Subsequently, in the months of November, December, January and February, Metro recorded a daily average ridership of 24.38 lakh, 22.71 lakh, 23.01 lakh and 22.18 lakh respectively.
Metro had attributed the initial dip to “seasonal variations” and holidays owing to festivals. The DMRC maintained that the “line utilisation” of the network has been steadily increasing with the launch of newer sections and interchange stations. “Line utilisation indicates how many passengers travelled on the line or a portion of that line during their overall journey on the Metro system. For example, earlier if a person had to travel from point A to point D, he had to break his journey. His travel from point A to B and point C to D would be counted twice. Now, the same person can travel the same distance without breaking the journey and he would be counted once,” said a DMRC official.
Among new corridors, a portion of the Pink Line that has been opened till now registered daily average ridership of 10,546 and 19,273 in March and April. The Magenta Line, meanwhile, carried an average of 51,292 and 47,890 people daily in the two months.