Demand grows for Kochi metro to slash rates

Votaries of public transport have demanded that Kochi Metro emulate other metro systems in India which are offering discount of up to 50% on travel fare, in order to overcome steep drop in footfall due to the pandemic situation.

Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) must offer discounts, especially to regular travellers, in order to attract more commuters to the system of mass rapid transport, it has been said. The average number of daily commuters now is less than 20,000, while the pre-COVID figure was approximately 65,000. The Hyderabad Metro came up with a Metro Suvarna offer, by challenging smart card holders to take a metro ride and offering up to 50% cashback on recharge of cards. It resulted in ridership increasing by 30% and the average number of daily commuters increase to 1.30 lakh. The special offer also included free trips to smart-card holders, said Ebenser Chullikat, who has been at the forefront of those demanding substantial fare reduction in order to regain a reasonable patronage for Kochi Metro.

Less than a lakh of metro commuters have purchased smart cards. Around 75% commuters still opt for QR paper tickets, possibly because availing the card comes with many riders. Passengers would flock to get simple and easy-to-use cards, he added.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan was among those who joined the bandwagon of stakeholders who have been suggesting discounts to woo commuters. It would not in any way affect KMRL’s revenue, and it would benefit a large number of people who were avoiding the metro by citing its fare structure, they reminded.

KMRL sources said it was up to the State government to take a call on discounts or slashing fares. The Director Board’s approval too was crucial. The risk posed by the pandemic too had to be taken into account, they said.

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