Enclosing Delhi and its nearby cities, namely, Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, and Delhi, the Delhi Metro is a system that is impertinent for the people of these places for their daily commute and running. It is situated in the national capital region of India. The Delhi metro was built, is owned and is also run by the Delhi metro Rail Corporation limited (DMRC) which is a company owned by the state due to its equity share being split into two halves between the Indian government and the Delhi government. It is the second of its kind to be built in India right after its predecessor the Kolkata metro. It is known to be the 10th largest metro and ranks at 16th highest in total ridership all over the world. A member of the Community of metros (CoMET) its railway network is substantially widespread over eight colour coded transport lines. The total length of the tracks is approximately 300 kilometre and has over 220 stations over it.
A study on the traffic and travel conditions which was conducted in 1969 pointed out the need for a mass transportation system for the city of New Delhi. To accomplish this, over the course of several years, many official committees by different types of government departments were given the duty of examining the barriers preventing them to achieve this, such as restrictions related to the current technology, route alignment, financial feasibility and the governmental power who will oversee it. After almost 15 years the Urban Arts commission came up with a feasible solution, which was the development of a multi-faceted transport system which would require the construction of three underground corridors to be used for mass rapid transit. It would also serve the added benefit of adding to the city’s already existing network of suburban railway and road transport.
During the time period when finance was being raised and large-scale technical studies were going on for this project , the city of Delhi was in its primetime for expansion , the result of which was a huge increase of twice its existing population and an even greater increase of five times in the number of on-road vehicles .
The existing bus system was unable to handle this new major inflow of commuters due to which more and more people started preferring to take private vehicles. This resulted in extra headaches for the government in the form of steeply rising pollution and the congestion of traffic. To counter this, the government attempted to hand over the bus business over to the private industry but this only made it worse as this gave way to a plethora of new problems such as operators who didn’t know what to do, buses causing noise and air pollution, very long waiting times for a ride, drivers that were unfit to drive, overcrowding and an highly unreliable service.
To try and correct the above mentioned issues the government of India joined hands with the government of Delhi and together established the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The position of its first managing director was given to Dr. E. Sreedharan.
Price hike and loss of ridership
The DMRC wanted a hike in the travel fares all the way since 2009 but due to multiple complications it only got a fare panel after 7 years in 2016. The panel that was established had three members and was headed by the secretary of the Union of urban development Mr Rajib Gauba.
For having sought after the fare hike, the DMRC gave a lot of reasons, but their main focus was upon the rising operation costs which included an over 90% bump due to growing electrical feed It has to be noted that power bills is responsible for almost 33% of the DMRC’s total operating costs. Adding to this, it came to the governments notice that the DMRC had suffered major losses in the year 2015-16 amounting to a total of almost 710 crores .The DMRC also declared that its operating ratio was approximately 76% which meant that they were spending 76 paise for each rupee earned.
All this led to the major fare hike in August ,2017 , in which there was a 100% increase in travel fares in all the distance slabs , for the 0-2 km bracket the price changed from 4-6 rupees to 10 , for the 2-5km went from 9-11 to 20 and so on. Although the fare hike helped bring the operating ratio down from 76% to 65% approximately, it brought about a major fall in the ridership.
A query had revealed that the Delhi metro had lost over three lakh commuters a day , weeks after the price hike came into effect in October 2017 .The daily ridership came down from 27.7 lakh to 24.3 lakh approximately, which is huge blow of almost 11 percent . Taking into account the density demographics of each and every metro line, the blue and yellow lines were the ones with the highest footfall, which is also why they suffered the heaviest losses of almost 30 lakh and 19 lakh commuters respectively.
Another major reason for the loss of ridership is the booming taxi industry , with giants like UBER and Ola providing door to door cab services and even can sharing for a cheaper option , many people now prefer to take a cab as the cost is pretty comparable to the metro and one doesn’t have to switch metros or look for that last mile connectivity.
Effect on other modes of transport
Before the metro was even established, the general public still completed their daily commute through the means of buses and autos, and with the city expanding, the population was rising very quickly, the consequences of this were reflected in the form of increasing travel times, road congestions, and the in-ability of the existing bus and auto systems to handle the increasing amount of commuters. When the metro started to function, it brought about positive changes to the over-flooded public transport system in the above mentioned aspects. Firstly the total load of people was lifted to some extent, giving the existing transport system room to breathe, this also led to a decrease in the number of vehicles on road thus de congesting traffic. Lastly as a study revealed, the average distance a person travelled for reach work was 15 kilometres, and the time it took to travel that distance was approximately 60 minutes, but with the induction of the metro, the average travel time has been reduced to almost 40-47 minutes.
All things aside, the metro is a huge benefit that gives millions of people the facility to make their commute faster, easier, cheaper and even more comfortable, it even causes a tenth of the atmospheric pollution as compared to other vehicles. As far as the loss of ridership is concerned , I think that its main cause is the just the mentality of the people that functions against anything that may make them pay more than the usual , but sooner or later the number of commuters is going to inevitably increase . Even comparing other modes of transport from a competitive point of view, the fact remains that because the population is rising so quickly, we will only need more and more of transport facilities and there is no chance of any one mode stealing or stagnating any others business.