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Delhi Metro is second most unaffordable transport network in the world, say experts

With at least 30% of Delhi Metro users falling within Rs 20,000 monthly income group, a big chunk of their income is spent on travelling by the metro.

delhi Updated: Sep 05, 2018 20:09 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi Metro,Centre for Science and Environment,Unaffordable
Passengers travel by the Magenta line metro after the Kalkaji Mandir-Janakpuri West stretch became open to public on Tuesday.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

A middle-income commuter of the Delhi Metro on an average spends 19.5% of her income on travel, data released by Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) showed. But a commuter should not have to spend more than 15% of the income on any mode of transport, experts from the organisation said.

On Tuesday, the first of the CSE’s two-day international conclave highlighting the state of urban transport systems around the world, the experts said the Delhi Metro was the second most unaffordable transport network in the world after Hanoi in Vietnam.

The affordability is defined as the percentage of commuters’ total income spent on travel.

The calculations are based on the fourth Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) report for the Delhi Metro that showed that 30% of Delhi’s commuters are within the monthly group of Rs 20,000. In case of the economically weaker sections, this percentage share increases to 22% of their income.

Gautam Patel, principal consultant (coordinates), Ahmedabad, and Gaurav Dubey, Programme Manager at Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility at CSE, said that no transit system should ask its users to spend more than 15% of their earnings on their services. In case of lower income groups, the share should not be over 10%, he said.

For example, an unskilled labourer in Delhi earning a minimum daily wage of Rs 534 on an average spends Rs 80 (15%) out of her income on transport. As per CSE’s calculations, she would spend around 8% of her income if she travels in a non air-conditioned public bus, 14% in an air-conditioned bus, and 22% travelling in Delhi Metro.

“There is no doubt that the quality of services provided by the Delhi Metro is good but the fares need to be kept in mind too,” Patel said.

Last year, the Metro fares almost doubled after two hikes in May and October, following the recommendations of the fourth FFC. After the two hikes, the maximum fares escalated from Rs 30 to Rs 50 and then to Rs 60.

Varsha Joshi, Delhi’s transport commissioner, said the fare hikes were needed to improve the quality of a transport network. However, these need to be introduced gradually.

“The question is, how much fare is affordable for a particular quality if ride. Indexing of fares is a possibility, where fares can be incrementally increased indexed to inflation,” Joshi said.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) defended these fare revisions, saying these were revised after a gap of nine years, during which there was an increase of almost 90% in power tariffs and other input costs.

“The fares were revised by an independent FFC through a well-defined mechanism and not by the DMRC itself,” said Anuj Dayal, executive director (corporate communications), DMRC.

Dayal said this year the Metro has already expanded its network by more than 60km and will have a network of 350km in the coming months.

“The Delhi Metro is providing an eco-friendly and convenient travel option and periodic fare revisions are imperative to sustain such infrastructure projects in the long run,” he said.

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 03:25 IST