Pankaj Bhambani, a resident of Block C-5 in Janakpuri can easily take the Metro to work. His only problem is the erratic feeder buses.
“If I depend on the feeder buses, it will take me between 30-45 minutes to reach the Janakpuri West Metro station from my residence,” said Bhambani, who works in the private sector. “I reach my Barakhamba Road office in almost the same time by my car.”
There are many like Bhambani who either avoid taking the Metro or have to spend a lot of time to commute to and from the station.
Another resident of Janakpuri Block C, Deepti Khanna (name changed on request), travels by the Metro to her Connaught Place office everyday.
One day she had to take a rickshaw home from the Janakpuri West Metro Station at 9.30 pm.
“The driver told me the bus was only half full and would wait till there
were more passengers,” she said. “It was getting late, so I decided to take a rickshaw.”
On the way, 500 metres from the Janakpuri Police Station, three men stopped her and made off with her gold chain and handbag.
Irregularity of service, overcrowding and harassment are some of the major problem commuters, especially women, complain of on the feeder buses.
Though Delhi Metro claims an average daily ridership of more than 40,000 on feeder buses, the actual number of commuters using them are very few.
For more than nine lakh daily commuters on the 90-kilometre Metro network — it connects 76 stations — there is a small fleet of 120 buses operating from only 10 stations. Of the 120, around 20 buses remain grounded at any given point of time due to poor maintenance.
During the peak hours, the waiting time goes up to more than 30 minutes.
With an aim to facilitate more passengers to reach metro stations, DMRC started feeder buses in November 2007. Stations that had no transport facilities were chosen for the service on pilot basis. The move paid dividends and the Metro witnessed sudden surge in ridership. But commuters complain the quality of service has gone down drastically.
“The situation worsens after 8.30 pm. They don’t start the bus until it is full. If you argue with them, they start using foul language,” said Seema Gupta, a resident of Geeta Colony who takes the Metro everyday from Yamuna Bank.
Delhi Metro officials said there are feeder bus service cell and a public grievance system to look into commuters’ complaint, but people said the system does not provide any redressal.
“I had lodged a complaint with the station supervisor in May but there has been no response from the Metro,” said Bhambani. “My emails to the officials concerned have gone unanswered.”