Delhi - a Metro story

Delhi’s tryst with a world-class Metro network started with the opening of an 8.5-km link from Shahdara to Tis Hazari in December 2002. From the time when a majority of the 70,000-odd commuters who used the section were joyriders to now, the Metro has come a long way. The network today spans across an impressive 152 kilometres and caters to almost 15 lakh people daily. Over the past eight years, this mode of mass commute has become the backbone of the capital’s public transportation system. For a city where public transport meant rickety buses and ill-behaved auto drivers, the Metro introduced an allnew world where Delhiites for the first time had the option of leaving behind their private cars and two-wheelers for something that not only offered nearly as much comfort, but also gave respite from traffic jams. A large number of people switched to the Metro for everyday commute. There have been a lot of issues too. The expanding network has been plagued by technical glitches and integration issues. Passengers using the various lines regularly complain about delays in trains, something that DMRC explains as ‘‘teething troubles’’ which are going to ease with time. ‘‘Any new system needs time for integration. The Metro system is very complex and whenever a new line is opened, it takes some time for the systems to stabilise, etc,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson. Connectivity to the Metro has also been a concern since Metro stations are far and wide and the paratransit modes such as autos, cycle-rickshaws and feeder buses are still not organised. As a result, a large number of people, who live in colonies within a 5-km radius of operational Metro lines and want to take the trains, find it difficult to reach the stations. The government is finally trying to step in by altering bus routes to feed the Metro. But a lot more needs to be done. These challenges notwithstanding, the Metro remains more reliable than the city’s public and private buses, and autos. Airconditioned coaches running on dedicated tracks are a much-needed relief from Delhi’s maddening traffic and pollution. No wonder then that the number of people using the Metro has been increasing at a pace even faster than what DMRC had estimated for some stretches like the Noida line. With busy connects to Noida, Anand Vihar, Gurgaon and now Sarita Vihar opening as part of Phase II of Metro construction, ridership figures have been galloping for the past two years. Metro ridership stood at 8.9 lakh when the Noida section opened in November 2009. This soared to 9.3 lakh in January 2010 when the Anand Vihar section opened and 10.5 lakh after the Gurgaon stretch got commissioned in June 2010. The opening of the missing link on the Gurgaon line — Central Secretariat to Qutub — in September this year took ridership to 12.7 lakh and when the Badarpur section opened this month, a record 14,7 lakh commuters started using the Metro daily. The next phase of Delhi Metro will add many links between the existing lines, making the Metro web stronger and further cutting down travel time. By 2015, new areas will be brought onto the Metro map providing more people access to the MRTS network. Finally, Delhi seems to be catching up with international cities where a sizeable chunk of the population depends on Metro trains for daily commute.

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