Commuters can continue paying the current fare -- Rs10 to Rs40 -- for travelling on the 11.4km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) Metro line at least till November 30, as the implementation of the proposed hike in the fare structure, which would bring the maximum fare to Rs110, has been deferred by a month.
Despite the nod from the Centre-appointed fare fixation committee (FFC), the operator of Mumbai Metro, Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), had decided not to implement the higher fare structure, fearing a drop in ridership, and consequently the revenue. So, it had pushed forward the implementation to October 31.
In the meanwhile, the MMOPL approached the state government for subsidy to keep the fare low. Although the government has apparently ruled out the possibility of a subsidy, MMOPL is lobbying for its guarantee for an interest-free loan, which is why the implementation has been delayed.
“The MMOPL will continue to charge the current discounted fare of Rs10 to Rs40 till November 30. Based on the advisory of the FFC, the MMOPL has already approached the state and MMRDA to achieve the dual objective of affordable fare and business sustainability,” said a spokesman, MMOPL.
A source close to the development said the state officials have indicated that MMOPL could be given a guarantee, may be through the Centre, to seek an interest-free or low-interest loan, which will help it keep the Metro fares low.
“If we could get interest-free loan through the state government, we will go for financial restructuring. It will help us keep the fares low,” said the source, adding MMOPL was incurring a loss of Rs10 crore to Rs12 crore a month.
In addition, the MMOPL has witnessed a gradual rise in ridership, up to 3 lakh commuters, in the past few months. MMOPL fears that any hike in the fare can have a negative impact on the stable ridership.
The ministry of urban development (MoUD) had sought a review of recommendations by the FFC, which include a fare hike to up to Rs110, in July this year. The state had also made a similar demand. However, the government officials have maintained a studied silence on the issue.