The pandemic had severely hit the Delhi Metro’s ridership, though it is gradually picking up
Since the resumption of metro services in September, post lockdown, the Delhi Metro saw a ridership of 3.29 lakh (11%) as compared to the 29.66 lakh same month last year, according to data provided by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in response to an RTI query filed by The Hindu.
The metro services in the national capital had remained suspended since March 22 after the pandemic outbreak. But five months later, on September 7, passenger operations resumed, following a nod from the Centre.
Metro services had resumed in a graded manner with staggered timings and it took around a week to make the nearly 400 kilometre-long network to become fully operational.
In September last year, the average daily ridership on the network was 29.66 lakh with a line utilisation of 53.49 lakh, which was also highest for the year 2019. According to the DMRC, line utilisation indicates the number of passengers who travel on a particular line or a portion of that line during their overall journey across the metro network.
Data provided by the DMRC showed that over the next two months post lockdown, the average daily ridership on the network in November this year rose to 22% of the highest ridership of last year. The figures for November last year, however, were 28.55 lakh with a line utilisation of 52.77 lakh.
The network, excluding the Airport Express Line and Rapid Metro Gurugram, saw an average daily ridership of 6.64 lakh in November this year with a line utilisation of 13.24 lakh.
The lowest average daily ridership recorded by the DMRC in 2019, was in March when it recorded a line utilisation of 45.82% with a ridership of 25.38 lakh. However, this year before the lockdown was announced, the Delhi Metro saw a daily average ridership of 22.01 lakh. The corresponding line utilisation figures up to March 21 were recorded to be 42.15 lakh.
Before the pandemic hit, the first two months of the year had recorded a daily average of 28.97 lakh and 29.10 lakh respectively. The corresponding line utilisation figures had been 56.61 and 56.06 lakh.
According to an internal note of the DMRC dated December 21, for the 2019-20 period, an operational ratio of 80.55% was recorded, which facilitated the public transporter to meet the daily expenditure. However, post lockdown and suspension of operations, the traffic earnings had reduced to “nil.”
“Even after reopening of the metro system, due to several restrictions and fear in public, the ridership is very low and consequently the revenues are also very low. In the last eight months the DMRC has earned only ₹247.65 crore whereas expenditure was ₹2208.24 core [approximately] including JICA loan and their interest payment due during this period,” the note read.
Following resumption of services, the DMRC had also issued a detailed guideline to ensure compliance of COVID-19 norms that included mandatory social distancing in terms of seating, restricted number of commuters inside stations, wearing masks throughout the journey and so on and so forth.
The public transporter had also introduced flying squads to ensure compliance of the guidelines and had said that violators would be penalised.
Among other offences, fines collected for spitting inside the premises, which was also an offence earlier, saw around 1.82% of commuters being fined in the month of September soon after resumption of services. However, in the subsequent months, the number declined and the DMRC collected a fine of ₹5,200 and ₹5,400 in October and November this year.