After the second metro fare hike in October, Delhi Metro lost over three lakh commuters per day, PTI reported today. The ridership data came from an RTI query.
The average ridership of 27.4 lakh in September came down to 24.2 lakh in October, a fall of about 11 percent. The Blue Line, running from Dwarka to Vaishali and Noida, lost a total of 30 lakh commuters; the Yellow Line, which connects South and North Delhi, lost 19 lakh commuters.
This fare hike in October was the second one this year, the first one being in May. Because of the two hikes, the fares doubled in a period of just six months. The metro had already seen a fall of 1.5 lakh passengers per day in June after the first hike.
The DMRC had justified the steep hike in fares citing an increase in operational costs. While that may be the case, how much sense does it make to recover these costs by making metro unaffordable for the public?
If ridership falls, so does the revenue. Fall in revenue means the DMRC is still unable to recover its expenses, while also making Delhi’s public suffer. Overall, the fare hike does not seem to benefit anyone.
While fares for the public are increasing, DMRC continues to have several avoidable, government-imposed expenditures which contribute to its rising expenses. Some of these involve paying rent to different government bodies. For instance, DMRC paid Rs. 38,608 lakhs to Indian Railways in land demands from March 2016 to March 2017. Instead of those costs being revisited, the burden of DMRC’s expenses is being borne by the public. This is a failure on the part of both state and central governments, along with DMRC.
Mangu Singh, the Managing Director of DMRC, had told TOI in an interview in September that the corporation is not worried that increasing fares will result in a fall in ridership.
The fare hike in October was followed by protests throughout Delhi, with daily wage labourers saying that they will no longer be able to afford the metro, and will switch to buses instead. It remains to be seen if the DMRC is worried about its ridership now, and if it will consider making metro services public-friendly again.