In the past one year, the single biggest improvement in Mumbai’s commute scene has to be the change from long, expensive autorickshaw rides to the smooth air-conditioned glide that the metro offers.
While the service took its time coming – it was supposed to be launched in 2010 – and has had its share of controversies, from the issue of naming it to the still-unresolved fare hike row, commuters, largely, have been satisfied with it.
With a few exceptions of technical glitches, the metro has been mostly on time throughout its one-year journey.
Going by the figures provided by the operator, Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL), around 2.63 lakh commuters use the service on weekdays, while 2.17 lakh use it on Saturdays. For Sundays, the figure is 1.34 lakh. More than 90 million commuters had used the metro by May 31 this year.
For Mumbaiites, the Versova-Ghatkopar service means hassle-free and comfortable travel in the first mode of mass transport linking the city’s eastern and western suburbs. The metro has reduced travel time between Versova and Ghatkopar to 20 minutes, from the one hour it took earlier.
“Before the metro was launched, the travel from Ghatkopar to Andheri was a nightmare because of the congestion on the Andheri- Kurla road. Now, it has become a comfortable, 20-minute ride,” said Ayush Garg, who works for a realty firm.
The Reliance-led MMOPL has come up with various initiatives to woo commuters, such as return ticket tokens, trip-based passes, cash-back offers, discounted fares for children on Sundays and concession for smart card users.
While it took one month for the metro to register one crore commuters, it crossed the 5-crore mark in just six months. However, the numbers have fallen from January this year, when the fares were increased from Rs10-20 to Rs10-40. The bitter legal battle between the MMOPL and the state over the fare hike has been the biggest controversy to hit the city’s newest transit system. Now, the matter is in the Supreme Court and the new fares will not come in effect by June this year.
“There is no doubt that the metro has provided a state-of-the-art transport option to commuters. However, the fare must be controlled, as this is a mode of mass transport, for use by the economically disadvantaged too,” said Jitendra Gupta, transport expert.
The MMOPL spokesperson thanked Mumbaiites for the choosing the service over other modes of transport. “It was indeed a great year. Despite many challenges and teething problems, Mumbai Metro maintained over 99% service efficiency. We look forward to strengthening our bond with Mumbaiites by enhancing their travel experiences,” he said.