With Covid-19 cases in the city on an upward spiral, the Delhi Metro has stepped up crowd control measures to ensure social distancing inside stations and aboard trains, including increasing the number of enforcement teams and temporarily shutting entry into Metro stations to limit crowds.
The Delhi Metro’s ridership has increased consistently since the service resumed operations in September 2020 after the lockdown. The average passenger journey in September last year was 619,242, but it crossed 2.6 million in March this year.
The increase in the number of commuters, officials admit, has made crowd management challenging. Delhi Metro on Tuesday, 6th March temporarily closed entry to four stations on the Yellow line (Samaypur Badli to HUDA City Centre) to control the swelling crowds.
While entry to Patel Chowk, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi and Chawri Bazaar stations was closed for around 10 minutes, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials said passengers were allowed to deboard trains and exit the stations. “This is part of our crowd control measures to ensure social distancing at the stations and on trains,” said a DMRC official.
DMRC officials said that though passenger journeys have increased since September, they are still just around 50% of the numbers recorded during the corresponding period last year. For instance, the Metro recorded 4.3 million passenger journeys in March 2020.
With the Delhi government on Tuesday imposing a night curfew between 10pm and 5am, the Metro body expects the number of commuters to drop as well. According to the state government’s guidelines, only essential service providers with valid ID cards and government-issued passes are allowed to travel in the Metro after 10pm.
The DMRC has also stepped-up measures to check for Covid-19 protocol violations.
“We now have seven teams (up from four earlier) to crack down on violations. The number of penalties issued has increased considerably in March, when cases began to increase,” said a DMRC official.
In September last year, 5,180 people were penalised for not following Covid-appropriate behaviour. But in January and February this year, the numbers dropped to 3,131 and 2,823 respectively. But the number of penalties has again increased. A senior DMRC official said, “In March, we penalised 7,058 people for violating Covid protocols. Since we resumed operations, 29,267 people have been penalised.”