The Metro kept Delhi from derailing on Friday. As the shortage of petrol and diesel hobbled private vehicles, Delhiites turned to the Metro in a big way.
By 8 pm, 6.26 lakh people had used the Metro, as against only 4.7 lakh people on Thursday — an increase of 33.2 per cent.
“Although I drive to work everyday, my car’s tank was almost dry today. So, I walked down to the Shahdara Metro station in the morning and took the Metro for New Delhi railway station, and then an auto to my Daryaganj office,” said Akhil Kumar Singh (35), senior executive with a publishing house.
Even DTC ridership witnessed a 20 per cent increase on Friday. A senior DTC official, who did not wish to be named, said there was a visible increase in the number of passengers, especially in air-conditioned and low-floor buses.
“Some 20 lakh passengers travel by DTC buses everyday, and we expect this number to have touched 24 lakh on Friday,” the official said.
Meanwhile, motorists had a tough time on Friday morning with almost 80 per cent petrol pumps running dry in Delhi. Serpentine queues of two-wheelers and four-wheelers could be seen at various Hindustan Petroleum (HP) filling stations, which were unaffected by the strike.
At most HP filling stations, which operate round-the-clock, motorists had started queuing up for fuel early in the morning. Scenes of two-wheeler riders dragging their vehicles from one filling station to another were common.
Although we open the pump at 6 am, people had started arriving by 5 am. There was a long queue of vehicles at our pump by 7 am,” said Kuldeep Singh, a worker at a filling station in Shahdara.
“It took me more than an hour to get a fill at a HP filling station in Vaishali, Ghaziabad. I expected a rush at the filling station, so I started 30 minutes early, yet reached my office late,” said Arun Tripathi, a resident of Vasundhara, Ghaziabad.
The strike kept a large number of vehicles as well as people off the road in Delhi. There were reports of private coaching institutes suspending classes for the day. Attendance was thin at colleges and also offices.
Delhiites, however, heaved a sigh of relief with Oil Sector Officers Association calling off the strike on Friday evening. Petroleum dealers said most petrol pumps would be able to start their normal operations by Saturday afternoon.
“Oil tankers would start reaching the pumps by 8-8.30 am and normalcy would return by Saturday afternoon,” said Anil Bijlani, general secretary, Delhi Petrol Dealers Association.