Govt proposes common fare regulator for Metro rail across India
Besides recommending fare revision, the regulator may, if required, also fix different fare structure for peak and non-peak hours, public holidays and other occasions.delhi Updated: Dec 31, 2016 22:56 IST
Metro fares revision could become a regular feature with the government proposing to set up a common regulator for all mass rapid transit systems across India, on the lines of TRAI in telecom and CERC in power sector.
Besides recommending fare revision, the regulator may, if required, also fix different fare structure for peak and non-peak hours, public holidays and other occasions.
The Metro Rail Fare Regulatory Authority will replace the temporary fare fixation committee (FFC) that is currently set up by the Centre for respective states as and when Metro rail corporations request for a fare hike. The FFC is set up for three months. It is on their recommendation that Metro corporations increase the fare. Currently, Metro is operational in cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.
The proposal is part of the draft Metro Rail bill, 2016 prepared by the Union urban development (UD) ministry. “We have sent the bill for inter-ministerial consultations. Once the process is complete we will move the cabinet for final approval,” a ministry official said.
Officials said that a regulator would go a long way in ensuring that not only fares are revised at regular interval but also insulating the process from political interference. “It is important to revise the fares to keep Metro viable,” an official said.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has been requesting a fare hike since 2009, citing an increase in its operational cost. In November 2016, the FFC recommended increasing the maximum fare from Rs 30 to Rs 50. But worried about adverse political impact ahead of 2017 municipal polls, the Centre as well as the AAP government -- whose officials are part of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation board -- put on hold its decision to increase the fare.
The FFC set up for Mumbai Metro last year recommended increasing the maximum fare from Rs 40 to Rs 110. This has been challenged in the Bombay High Court by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority. Fare revision is also due in the Bangalore Metro that opened in 2011.
The proposed Metro regulator will be headed by a chairperson and two other members. “It can recommend revision of fare structure, either suo motu or on a request from the Metro rail administration,” another government official added.
The regulator will also have the mandate to fix the initial fare for a Metro system at the time of opening. “In the existing Act, respective metro rail administrations have been empowered to fix the initial fare,” an official said.