A week after it resumed operations, Delhi Metro is showing a pick-up in ridership. On September 14, the mass rapid transit network ferried about 250,000 riders.
Though a sharp surge from 8,300 passengers in the first few hours of its restart on September 7, the number is still nowhere close to the 6-million average daily ridership of Delhi Metro before the nationwide lockdown kicked in on March 25. But it offers a glimmer of hope to the organisation — its finances went off the rails during the lockdown.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had resumed operations on September 7 as part of the central government’s permission under Unlock 4.0 guidelines. Following a graded reopening, it first restarted the Samaypur Badli-HUDA City Centre section of services. The other lines were made operational in succession before the entire network of 400 km was thrown open to the public on September 12. Many passengers switched to the Metro for their daily commute.
It was because they were earlier relying on either buses or ride-hailing aggregators, besides private modes of transport. The total ridership stood at 249,884 on Monday evening — this was the first working day after all lines became operational.
Besides Delhi Metro, other privately run Metro networks, including Hyderabad Metro, also started functioning from September 7. It started with 19,000 passengers on the first day and gradually increased to 31,000 on the third day. Monday’s ridership for Hyderabad Metro was around 45,000, according to sources.
DMRC made losses to the tune of Rs 1,690 crore during the 169-day period it was closed, thereby forcing the Centre-state public sector company to resort to stringent cost-cutting measures, including freezing staff allowances.
Besides train tickets, the Corporation also earns revenue from advertising and rentals from the retail outlets at the Metro stations.
DMRC had halted services on March 22 amid fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus. During the shutdown, it had incurred a revenue loss of around Rs 10 crore per day on average.
DMRC had also received loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Although DMRC is responsible for loan repayment, it had been taken from JICA by the Centre, whom the DMRC repays.