With growing complaints of commuters not getting seats on the Metro even at origin stations, the DMRC is cracking down on those travelling back to these stops just to avoid standing.
The trick to getting a seat works this way: A passenger going to Dwarka from Anand Vihar on the Blue Line boards the train going towards Vaishali, two stations after Anand Vihar and the last stop on the line. He then takes the same train back to Dwarka, grabbing a seat when the train empties out at Vaishali.
“Between March and June, 601 people were penalised for making this return journey. The fine is only Rs 50 but we hope it will act as a deterrent. At the last station on every line, we look for passengers who remain seated and check their token or smart card,” said a senior official of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The DMRC has formed a special squad to carry out checks and challan passengers.
On a few lines — the HUDA City Centre stop in Gurgaon on the Yellow Line, for instance — the DMRC has arranged for trains to terminate at one platform and start from another, ensuring empty coaches at the start of a journey.
The crackdown comes at a time the Delhi Metro is struggling to cope with a 156% jump in average ridership over five years.
A survey conducted before the Metro network construction started projected daily traffic in 2016 would be 27.30 lakh. But the average daily ridership has already touched 26 lakh passengers. In fact, in August it went up to 31.90 lakh.
The return journey isn’t necessarily an offence — it isn’t listed as one in the rules and regulations. The rules, in fact, say a token has to be deposited back in the Metro system 170 minutes after purchase — time enough to ride to a few extra stations to catch hold of a seat.
In Mumbai, which went the Metro way last year, commuters do it all the time and it isn’t against the rules provided they hold season passes allowing them any number of return trips between destinations, sources said.
But DMRC sources said the crackdown was necessitated by increasing complaints of lack of seats. “We are facing a problem at the recently opened ITO station on the Faridabad line too. Passengers travel from Mandi House to ITO and then turn back to travel on the Faridabad line. As a result, a passenger who boards at ITO hardly ever gets a seat,” the official said.