It transformed the way Delhiites travelled to Metro stations and was an eco-friendly way to get around town.
But thanks to official apathy, the 'Metro cycle feeder service' — a private initiative to allow people to hire a bicycle from near their homes to reach the Rohini East metro station or the neighbourhood market — is on the verge of an unceremonious exit from Delhi’s public transport stage.
Unlike the Delhi Metro's own 'rent a bicycle' service — where the hirer has to return the bicycle to the same metro station — the Metro cycle feeder service functions on a different concept.
Launched as a pilot project from the Rohini East metro station, the cycle feeder service was meant to spread its operations to various other metro stations and residential areas across the Capital.
Those interested in availing the service could hire a bicycle for as low as R3 per ride and drop it at any of the three satellite cycle sub-stations in Rohini Sector-13 and Sector-8.
"Though the government talks about promoting public transport and cycling, so that fewer people use their private vehicles, it has not come up
with a concrete plan till date. Initially, the government liked our plan and allowed us to start a pilot project. But it is now shying away from promoting the project," said Atul Jain, partner, Delhi Cycles Private Limited, the company that started the project.
According to Jain, more than 100 people — both men and women in different age groups and profile — have subscribed to their cycle feeder service.
"Almost 50% of these subscribers shifted from cars and two-wheelers to the bicycle. They are very happy with the concept. If the project is allowed in other parts, it would certainly help reduce the number of private vehicles on Delhi's roads and bring down pressure on parking lots at Metro stations," Jain said.
According to the promoters, a little help from the government can go a long way in popularising the concept. The promoters said the rent they get by giving out the bicycles cannot help sustain the project.
"We have successfully completed the pilot project and plan to start the service in Rohini and Dwarka with around 60 cycle stands,” Jain said.
“If the Delhi government supports this project, it can be implemented easily and will be highly beneficial. We need permission from MCD, PWD, DMRC, DDA for installation of these stands, with advertisement rights, to make it a self-sustaining project," Jain added.
The promoters recently met the Delhi chief minister (CM) thrice for help.
"The CM has really liked the project and has asked the transport department to suggest how it can be promoted," an official close to the CM said.