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Steep fare hike will ‘kill’ Delhi Metro, says Kejriwal

The steep fare hike will “kill” Delhi Metro, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, a day after an RTI revealed that the Metro lost over three lakh commuters a day due to the fare increase.

delhi Updated: Nov 25, 2017 23:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Delhi Metro,Delhi metro fare,Delhi metro fare hike
On October 10, the DMRC effected the fare hike, leading to a rise of around Rs 10 for nearly every distance slab. This came barely five months of another hike of up to 100 per cent. (Sonu Mehta/HT File)

Metro fares have once again become a political hot potato in the national capital with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday saying the fare hike would “kill the Delhi Metro” and Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri responding that the recent drop in ridership had nothing to do with the increase in ticket prices.

Puri, Union minister of state for housing and urban affairs, said that the dip in Delhi Metro’s ridership cannot be linked to the fare hike that came into effect on October 10. He justified the hike saying it was necessary for maintaining “efficiency” of Delhi Metro.

“The fare hike has not led to a decline in Metro ridership. For example, in 2016, there was a ridership dip by 1.3 lakh from September to October when there was no change in fares,” Puri told the media on Saturday.

On Friday, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) reply to an RTI query by news agency PTI, stated that Delhi Metro’s daily average ridership came down from 27.4 lakh in September to 24.2 lakh in October, a fall of around 11%.

But the Union minster defended the hike and added that despite the increase in price, DMRC fares are still among the “lowest in the world” and the “lowest in India.”

Puri’s comments came hours after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has been opposing the fare hike, tweeted: “This steep hike in Metro fare will kill Delhi Metro. If people stop using it, then what purpose does it serve?”

Puri said a few months every year see an increase in ridership, while decline is observed in others. For many days immediately after the fare revision, ridership was actually higher than before, he said. “On previous occasions of fare increase, there were, at times, temporary dips in ridership which recovered shortly. Ridership in November has shown a rising trend,” the Union minister said.

However, according to the DMRC’s records, the fall in October was the steepest ever. The Metro has been logging a daily average ridership between 27 lakh and 28 lakh passengers over the recent years, with minor variations.

He also said that the Metro is a capital-intensive project and if it has to be run efficiently, its “long-term liabilities in terms of loan repayment need to be discharged timely.”

“DMRC has a loan of ₹28,268 crore. So far, they have only paid ₹1,507 crore. For the current year, they have to pay ₹890 crore towards principal and interest liability,” he said.

On October 10, the DMRC effected the fare hike, leading to a rise of around ₹10 for nearly every distance slab. This came barely five months of another hike of up to 100%.

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 13:10 IST