While residents of east Delhi and neighbouring Ghaziabad happily boarded the Metro on the new line that opened in Anand Vihar on Thursday, a substantial number of commuters have started complaining of overcrowding in the rail service. “The Metro has become too cramped. It’s now like an air-conditioned Blueline bus,” says Ravi Kumar, who travels to Chawri Bazaar everyday.
As Delhi Metro’s managing director E Shreedharan announced the opening of at least one line every month, the number of users will only increase. Some are wondering if the Metro can introduce exclusive high-priced coaches where the overcrowding could be checked. “I’m ready to pay more for comfort,” says Madhu Sethi who boards the train from Rajouri Garden daily. “It gets suffocating. Besides, people can be so smelly and unhygienic.”
The most common problem due to overcrowding in the Metro, is dizziness. “I feel pukish,” says Ruchi Jha, a radio jockey who commutes from Vishwavidyalaya to Akshardham. The problems multiply for women. “Men cling on to you,” says Aarti Saxena, a shop assistant who travels from New Ashok Nagar to Rajiv Chowk. “My commute has become as much a suffer as it is a safar (travel),” she says.
Most people HT City spoke to don’t mind paying extra for travelling in a less crowded compartment. “I want that kind of a coach,” says Adaa, who commutes from Mayur Vihar Phase I to Patel Nagar. “Only decent people would board it then.” Not all are nodding their heads though. “I cannot pay a high amount,” says Raj Bahadur who sells lemonade outside the Barakhamba Metro stop.
A few are of the opinion that like Mumbai local trains, they should introduce pricier first class coaches in the Metro. “You don’t have to rub shoulders with fisherwomen there,” says Parul Singh, an office-goer. But would Delhi Metro introduce such a privilege? “Segregation doesn’t go with Metro services, which have uniform prices the world over,” says Metro spokesperson Anuj Dayal.
“Metro is a mass rapid transit system for the masses.” Some say the first class coaches in Mumbai locals don’t make the commute hassle-proof. “In peak hours, compartment in both the classes are equally crowded,” admits Singh. “We don’t have to imitate Mumbai,” says sociologist Dipankar Gupta. “Every Delhiite who pays for the ticket should get good service.” The commuters may soon heave a sigh of relief. “We’re increasing the number of coaches from four to six,” says Dayal.