Mumbai’s only operational Metro rail corridor between Versova and Ghatkopar bore a deserted look on Monday after restarting operations following a seven-month-long break.
The Mumbai Metro resumed service with limited seating on its trains due to social distancing norms. At Versova, all except two entrances were closed. Of those two, one gate with an escalator was earmarked for entry into the station and another across the road for exit. Maharashtra State Security Corporation guards were posted at the exit to point confused passengers towards the entrance.
Inside the station, passengers were allowed to buy tickets and walk to turnstiles after being scanned for body temperature. The Mumbai Metro dispensed with its reusable round plastic coupons and handed out disposable paper tickets while encouraging passengers to purchase tickets using QR codes. For those passengers who had purchased Metro cards before lockdown, the Mum-bai Metro extended the validity and restored the value on it.
A passenger who boarded the train at Versova station said that he feared his card had expired after the scanner at the turnstile refused to accept it. “The employee at the ticket counter told me that there was not enough money left on the card and I just had to recharge it,” he added. Inside the trains, passengers were only allowed to sit on alternate seats. Stickers on the floor marked standing areas at intervals of a few feet.
Retail stores and kiosks inside the station premises were yet to fully open. While fast food kiosks and coffee shops were shut, the ones that did open at Andheri station found no customers.
Sohail Khan, who works at a mobile phone accessories kiosk at the station, returned to his workplace for the first time on Sunday to clean up seven months’ worth of dust. “Before the lockdown, there would not be space to stand in the station during rush hour. Now, commuters will only return once everyone is allowed to take the train. It will take a long time for business to pick up again,” he said.
Day 1 of the operations saw 12,000 commuters taking the Metro. Before the lockdown, 4.5 lakh people used to travel by Metro daily. Meanwhile, on the second day of operations on Monday, the 30 services of Monorail only saw 350 commuters.
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