With Namma Metro operations suspended since March 22, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) have incurred a revenue loss of around Rs 100 crore, and plan to seek financial assistance from the government.
The corporation’s daily expenses, including salary and loan servicing, amount to nearly Rs 80 lakh. “We have been using project funds so far. Our monthly expenses are around Rs 25 crore a month. We will have to approach the government finally,” said BMRCL managing director Ajay Seth.
Before the pandemic struck, BMRCL’s daily ridership was around 4.5 lakh and passenger revenue Rs 1.5 crore. However, Metro is unlikely to enjoy pre-Covid patronage whenever it resumes, mainly because of the work-from-home concept and virus scare. Non-fare box revenue from parking contracts, shop and ATM rentals and advertisements will also be hit.
The Karnataka government recently promised to release Rs 961 crore to four transport undertakings, including KSRTC and BMTC, towards salaries of more than 1.3 lakh employees till September. However, it has not announced any relief to BMRCL. While the Centre recently issued guidelines on Unlock 3.0, it’s yet to allow resumption of Metro services for reasons like chances of infection spread being higher in AC coaches and difficulty in ensuring social distancing. It had allowed all public transport barring Metro during Lockdown 4.0.
“In most countries, mass rapid transit systems like Metro, subway and tube are operational. Railways and state transport undertakings are also operating AC coaches. It’s possible to screen passengers at entry/exit points. The government should allow Metro to run as it’s the city’s lifeline” said Subida S, a regular Metro passenger.
BMRCL Employees’ Union vice-president Suryanarayana Murthy said: “There shouldn’t be any hurry to resume services. Metro coaches are closed AC spaces so one affected person could spread the virus to several passengers and staff. BMRCL should cut down on unnecessary work and expenses.”
Ajay Seth said 714 operations & maintenance staff have been deployed for various Covid-management duties like contact tracing and quarantine watch. “This is to pool available human resources to respond to the pandemic. Staff from various departments, state PSUs and agencies has been roped in,” he said.