In the past two years, despite the introduction of eight new sections on the Delhi Metro, the average daily ridership has dropped by over 3 lakh. And you can blame that on spiralling fares.
Data obtained by The Indian Express through a Right to Information (RTI) application reveal that the five operational corridors of the Delhi Metro in 2017 - namely Blue, Yellow, Green, Red and Violet, with a total network length of around 213 km - were carrying 26.50 lakh passengers daily in May that year, when fares were first hiked after eight years. In comparison, the first two months of 2019 registered a daily average ridership of a little over 23 lakh on these lines.
Let's not forget the second round of fare hike in October 2017 courtesy which the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had reportedly received 4.2 lakh fewer passengers in 2018 as compared to the previous year.
The study by the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) had further found that it had received nearly 32% less than the number of daily passengers it had hoped to serve - it had estimated that around 40 lakh commuters will use its network daily after the completion of Phase III. Things have only gotten worse in the ensuing months.
As per the RTI reply, while the shortfall in passengers is compensated by ridership in corridors launched after the fare hike, it continues to falls short of the DMRC's actual ridership projections.
In the current year, if you include the new 38-km Magenta Line and the 58-km long Pink Line, the total daily average ridership stands at a little over 26 lakh. In January and February this year, the Pink and Magenta lines were respectively taken by 3.36 lakh and 3.66 lakh people daily.
The DMRC records further reveal that since May 2017, the month-wise daily average ridership on the five original lines touched 26 lakh only three times - in July, August and September 2017. The figure did not touch 24 lakh even once post October 2017. The daily average ridership on these lines in 2018-19 was 22.85 lakh, down from 25.38 lakh in 2017-18.
The current fare structure of the Metro is reportedly Rs 10 up to 2 km; Rs 20 for 2-5 km; Rs 30 for 5-12 km; Rs 40 for 12-21 km, Rs 50 for 21-32 km; and Rs 60 for journeys beyond 32 km. According to CSE, among nine metropolitan cities across the world with operational metro systems, where the cost for a 10-km trip is less than half-a-US dollar, the Delhi Metro is the second most costly system.
With PTI inputs