Waiting time of upto 40 minutes could be seen outside some of Delhi’s busiest metro stations as footfall saw a huge spike despite services running at 50 per cent capacity owing to Covid-induced restrictions.
Records maintained by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) show that 13.26 lakh passengers travelled on the network on June 18, up from 6.38 lakh on June 7 when services commenced after nearly a month.
Passenger journeys are calculated by taking into account the corridors used by a commuter to travel from point A to point B. For example, if a passenger used three separate corridors in reaching from Huda City Centre to Mayur Vihar, she will be counted thrice.
The records show that as the restrictions were further eased from June 14, under which markets and malls were allowed to open fully, ridership saw a sharp spike despite the fact that metro continued to operate at 50 per cent capacity, under which only seating commute is allowed.
Consequently, an eight-coach train can carry around 250- 300 passengers as against the usual 2000-2400.
Metro also keeps a limited number of entry gates open to regulate passenger movement in the stations and trains, leading to long queues during peak hours.
On June 12, when the city remained under a limited lockdown, 8.82 lakh passenger journeys were recorded. As soon as restrictions were further eased on June 14, passenger journeys rose to 13.13 lakh, and further increased to 13.26 lakh on Friday, 18th June 2021.
Metro authorities have also deployed flying squads to ensure that Covid appropriate behaviour is followed in stations and trains. The squads have been penalizing an average of 200 commuters per day for violations such as not wearing masks and flouting social distancing norms.
Meanwhile, alongside a spike in footfall, metro’s revenue earnings have also gone up from Rs 1.4 crore on June 7 to Rs 1.6 crore on June 12. On June 14 and June 18, metro earned a little over Rs 2.5 crore from ticket sales.
In pre-pandemic times, it used to record roughly account for 28 lakh journeys per day, earning upto Rs 10 crore a day just from sale of tokens or swiping of smart cards.
Metro services remained suspended between March 22 and September 6, 2020. Services resumed on September 7 and footfall gradually went up over the months. However, services came to a halt again on May 10.
Both the phases of lockdowns have hit metro’s finances. It incurred losses of Rs 1,784.87 crore in 2020-21. Last December, the losses had forced the DMRC to transfer funds from its projects wing to the operations division and direct its officials to only allow bare minimum expenditure to run trains.
Metro’s earnings, excluding expenditure, from ticket sales during 2016-16, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 years were Rs 2179 crore, Rs 3027 crore, Rs 3582 crore, Rs 3897 crore and Rs 895 crore respectively.
The other sources of revenue, apart from ridership, include advertisements, property development, running feeder buses and consultancy for other metro projects.