Unlock 4.0: Metro journeys to be back, with #socialdistancing
‘Kripya darwazo se hatt kar khade ho. Please stand away from the doors.’ This announcement is one that almost every Delhiite has come to love over the years, while rushing about the city from one place to another in the city’s lifeline. Commonly referred to, by the millennials, as the voice of the Metro aunty / uncle, it has certainly been missed in all these five months when the Delhi Metro was made non-operational to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Now, however, the wait of denizens seems to finally come to an end.
As per the recent guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under Unlock 4.0, Delhi Metro is expected to resume its services for public from September 7, in a ‘phased manner’. Further details on the functioning and usage of the Metro by the public will be shared soon in detail. Anuj Dayal, executive director, corporate communications, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), says, “All necessary guidelines in place to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus shall be implemented.”
Talking about some of the new rules that will have to be followed in Delhi Metro, Dayal adds, “Alternate seating will be allowed and stickers will be pasted on the prohibited seats. For standing passengers, one meter distance must be kept, all passengers will be checked with thermal scanners and their hands will be sanitised. Lifts will accommodate about two-three passengers only. Trains will halt a little longer at stations to allow social distancing while boarding and de-boarding.”
No hour is rush hour?
So what can one expect in their ‘Unlock metro’ experience? City-based entrepreneur, Akash Gupta says, “I feel, there will be lesser people riding the Metro as many individuals will stick to #WorkFromHome in the new normal. Travel will be lot more need based, and hence this will lead to lesser pushing and shoving. However I just hope this trend continues for long and people use Metro facilities judiciously and with sanity.”
Gupta jokes, “What I’ll miss is standing at Rajiv Chowk metro station boarding for Gurugram and just standing in the queue, waiting for the crowd to do the rest in terms of taking you in inside the metro.”
Riding the metro without getting pushed around by the crowd? That’s a feat that Delhiites haven’t been able to witness often! “When I used to travel via metro to my college, I used to travel at 8 am rush hour. I remember that usually at Rajiv Chowk there was so much rush in the women’s section that the co-passengers often grabbed each other’s bags and even hair to enter the train. When the metro reopens now, the experience will be entirely different and surreal since metro is synonymous with dhakka mukki! Metro bin dhakka mukki is like chai without pappe,” laughs Jacqueline Joseph, a graduate from Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University.
Kripya doori banaye rakhein/ Please maintain distance
Will metro have some social distancing audio messages for riding passengers? “I’m hoping that the metro aunty (female voice of announcer) has a lot of fun one liners like ‘Darwazo se hi nahi, kripya ek doosre se bhi doori banaye rakhe #janhitmainjari (Not just from the door, maintain distance from fellow passengers, too. Issued in public interest). It will be so much fun travelling via the metro with lesser passengers, poori foreign wali feel aayegi, like the London tube that I’ve travelled in,” says Jaskaran Singh, a photographer.
Is it a metro station or FBI office?
Thermal scanning being made mandatory before getting permission to ride the metro has made city residents wonder how will it feel like being at gunpoint. Tanishka Kapoor, an IT professional, says, “I’m happy that stringent measures to protect our health will be made by the DMRC. But I can’t stop thinking how it will feel to be stopped at a (thermal) gun point from entering the metro. I’ve kept my jokes prepared for the guards scanning every passenger. One of my jokes will be saying loud – Yeh metro station hai ya FBI ka office?”
Sanitiser puffs to replace perfume puffs
“Wearing a good perfume was common courtesy while riding the crowded metro trains in the pre-Covid era. But now I feel that with a cap on the number of passengers, a sanitiser’s puff will go a longer way! Seems like the rules have changed,” says a gleeful Shweta Gupta, a merchandise designer from Delhi who is happy that travellers will finally give hygiene a priority when commuting via Delhi Metro. “I’m a hygiene freak! I’m so excited to ride the spic and span Delhi metro that won’t be messed up by people,” she adds.
Auntiyon ki gossip will be missed!
“Didi zara zor se boliye, social distancing ki vajah se awaz nahi sunayi de rahi.” Delhi-based undergrad student Abhir Bhalla, will miss the over hearing conversations in the metro, on any average day, but feels personal space, would be better this time. He says, “Since there are reports that metro will be keeping only a few gates open, it’ll be important that social distancing is followed. The community could really benefit from understanding and respecting the concept of personal space, which often does not happen in public transport. I’d miss the funny conversations though. You tend to hear other people talking loudly on the phone. And if you’re really bored, or your signal drops, and OTT isn’t working, it can be amusing to listen to people talk so loudly, and the whole compartment ends up staring at that person.”