According to a staggered reopening plan, Delhi Metro’s second busiest corridor, which connects north Delhi to Gurugram, and Rapid Metro in the Millennium City were opened on Monday. Before the pandemic, the daily ridership of Delhi Metro was around 27 lakhs. The number will go up with more lines opening but it is unlikely that the Metro in near future will regain that figure. That may have to wait for the Covid scare to go away.
On Monday, those who used the Metro were mainly office-goers who said they were taking the cheaper and faster option available to them in public transport. During the morning hours (7am to 11am), one could spot more personnel of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and CISF than passengers at many stations.
“I am happy the Metro is starting from today. They have made good arrangements. We must not show any negligence in following precautions,” CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
DMRC expects footfall to increase gradually as more corridors open
DMRC expects the footfall to increase gradually as more corridors are opened and the operational time is expanded. The next corridor to open will be Delhi Metro’s busiest, Blue Line (Dwarka-Noida/Vaishali), which connects west Delhi with east, and Pink Line (Majlis Park-Shiv Vihar), which forms an arc around the capital. The Yellow and Blue lines together carry about 60% of metro commuters.
“DMRC got the complete cooperation from the commuters who availed the services for the first time in 169 days with new norms of Metro travel in place owing to the ongoing pandemic,” said Anuj Dayal, executive director (corporate communications), DMRC.
One of the security personnel stationed at the Rajiv Chowk Metro station said they were expecting a crowd on the first day since many people have started venturing out and were using other modes of transport but that situation didn’t arise.
Sanitisation booths had been set up at multiple spots, right from the entrance to the spot where one enters the Metro. All seats were being sanitised thoroughly after short intervals. Thermal screening and hand sanitisation of all passengers were being conducted at the entry and frisking points. The bags carried by passengers was being sanitised near the entry gates before being passed through the x-ray machine.
Some passengers were unaware that tokens were not being issued and they bought smart cards at the stations. A total of 1,115 smart cards was sold. Some passengers reported technical glitches while trying to make payments for buying cards or paying a penalty through e-wallets.
The frequency of trains had visibly increased and so had the time for the doors opening at stations. While on board, commuters got to hear some new announcements which advised them to maintain social distancing and sit only on designated seats.
Ajay Gautam, a businessman working near Hauz Khas, said for him the metro was the most feasible option as it saved him a lot of time. “I come from Dwarka and it took me almost an hour to reach Hauz Khas on good days. When there was traffic, it took me even longer. The metro saves me that time. I was scared that I may catch the infection but I feel quite reassured after seeing the arrangements made by the authorities and have had a good ride so far,” he said.
Rajesh Ranjan, Director General, CISF, boarded a train from Central Secretariat, along with other senior officials, and travelled to Rajiv Chowk and then to Jor Bagh stations to take stock of the arrangements. He interacted with the CISF personnel and advised them to maintain minimum close proximity interaction with passengers without compromising security procedures.
Ranjan said that arrangements have been made to conduct contactless frisking and appealed to the passengers to keep the number of handbags at bare minimum and avoid carrying metallic items for faster screening and frisking.
Civil defence volunteers moved around inside the coaches, asking people to wear face masks properly. Volunteers also ensured social distancing when passengers were coming out of the stations.
The Metro services were available from 7 am to 11 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. The evening hours too did not witness a rush. However, more commuters seemed to have decided to take the metro in the evening after listening about the positive experiences of other people at their workplaces.