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Cover Story

Carriage of convenience

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Apr 15, 2010 | From the print edition

Metro projects can ease congestion. But lack of integrated planning is undoing the benefits of this mass transport system. Nidhi Jamwal and Ankur Paliwal report

imageDelhi Metro’s popularity has increased since it started running the first stretch between Shahdara and Tis Hazari in December 2002.

From 20,000 commuters a day to the one million daily commuters now.

And the number is set to double by the end of the year, said Anuj Dayal, chief public relations officer of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (dmrc), which is constructing and operating the capital’s Metro.

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The Metro is more convenient. My joint pains have eased because I don’t have to sit in a car for three-and-a-half hours. I reach my workplace in 45 minutes.
- SANTOSH YADAV

A large number of daily commuters are leaving personal vehicles home to ride the Metro. The Central Road Research Institute (crri), a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratory, recorded this switch from private vehicles to the mass transport system following two surveys—the first in 2007 and then 2009.  

Researchers interviewed over 12,000 Metro commuters between the Shahdara and Tis Hazari corridor. Of all the two-wheeler owners interviewed in 2007, a third were found to be Metro users. In 2009, when the survey was repeated, the figure had doubled to two-thirds two-wheeler owners. This study found a similar switch among car owners. If the 2007 survey recorded half the car owners interviewed were using the Metro, by 2009 two-thirds of the car owners were daily commuters.

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Earlier, we spent Rs 7,500 a month on petrol and Rs 5,000 a month on the driver’s salary. Now my mother and I together spend Rs 3,000 on fares and Rs 400 on parking.
- MISHA YADAV

What led them to make this switch? Traffic jams mostly, the survey found; 23.27 per cent gave traffic snarl-ups as their reason for choosing to become daily Metro commuters. Another 16.51 per cent said it was the time saved that drove them to the Metro. Other reasons were comfort (15.97 per cent ), safety (8.38 per cent) and parking problem (5.14 per cent). The Metro clearly means better mobility to many because one-fourth of Metro commuters (24.8 per cent) were two-wheeler owners, the 2007 crri survey found, and almost one-fifth (18.11 per cent) were car owners.

Santosh Yadav, 57-year-old principal of Delhi’s Lady Reading Health School, thanks Metro for easing her joint pains. Before it came to Noida, where she lives in sector-61, her daily commute meant sitting for one-and-a-half hours in the car. And then another two hours on her way back. This made her joint pain worse. On November 13 last year, when Metro rail reached Noida, Yadav abandoned her car for the Metro. “It is convenient and saves me time and money,” Yadav said. She now reaches college in 45 minutes.

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I live in Dwarka and my workplace is Tis Hazari court in Old Delhi. Earlier, I rode a bike and spent one hour on the road. Now I reach the court in 20 minutes.
- DEEPAK SHARMA

Her 25-year-old daughter Misha too has joined her in the daily Metro ride. Misha spends time at Delhi’s Ramakrishna Mission library; it takes her 40 minutes to reach. “Earlier, we spent Rs 7,500 per month on petrol and another Rs 5,000 a month on the driver’s salary. Both of us now together spend Rs 3,000 a month on fare and another Rs 400 as monthly car parking charges at the Noida station. We save Rs 9,000 in a month,” Misha said.

Deepak Sharma, 28-year-old lawyer, saves time. “I live in Dwarka and work in Tis Hazari Court in Old Delhi. Earlier, I spent one hour on the road each way. Now that I travel by Metro, I reach the court within 20 minutes,” said Sharma.

Traders in Chawri Bazar near Jama Masjid said business has been better since Metro came to their doorstep. “My printing business has gone up by 30-35 per cent after the Chawri Bazar station opened,” said Yogesh Sharma, a shop owner. “People hesitated to come here because of the congestion and lack of parking close to the market,” he said. They had to park their vehicles one-two km away at the New Delhi railway station or at Jama Masjid, and then take a cycle rickshaw. “But now customers get off at Chawri Bazar Metro station and walk up to our shops,” he added.

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People hardly came to my shop earlier because of congestion in the area and lack of parking. Now they get off at Chawri Bazar station and walk to my shop.
- YOGESH SHARMA

Sharma too takes the Metro every day from the Cantonment area where he lives. Earlier, negotiating the impossible traffic jam near Jama Masjid used to take over 40 minutes and very often the parking lot used to be full. The day Metro reached Chawri Bazar, Sharma said he abandoned his car and bought a Metro ticket. Now he reaches his shop within 15 minutes, spending Rs 15 a day.

“Earlier, I used to spend Rs 2,400 a month on petrol and another Rs 400 as parking charges,” Sharma said.

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