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– Average daily ridership had fallen to 25.7 lakh in June following a fair hike
– Annual ridership for 2017 has also recorded a decline from the previous year for the first time in a decade
The Delhi Metro might have expanded beyond 250 km but, owning to two consecutive fare hikes last year, the average ridership figure is still lingering around pre-2015 levels.
Before the October hike, the metro recorded an average ridership of 25.7 lakh in June. In months following steep increase in fare, the ridership fell to 24.58 lakh, 22.97 lakh and 23.23 lakh in November, December, January respectively. For the second time in 2017, ridership on Delhi Metro has witnessed a sharp decline following a fare hike. While its average daily ridership had fallen to 25.7 lakh in June following a fair hike, down by about 0.8 lakh from the May figure of 26.5 lakh, in October daily ridership plummeted sharply to 24.2 lakh from 27.4 lakh in September following another increase in fares. Two fare hikes last year appear to have hit traffic on the Delhi Metro. Monthly ridership is down to levels not seen since 2015, and the annual ridership for 2017 has also recorded a decline from the previous year for the first time in a decade, according to official data from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
A right to information (RTI) query by a newspaper revealed the Delhi Metro lost nearly 26 million riders in 2017 as compared to 2016. In January and February 2018, the average daily ridership figures stood at 2.36 million and 2.44 million respectively. The corresponding figures from January and February 2016, before either of the fare hikes came into effect, were 2.76 million and 2.93 million.
The worst month during this period was December 2017, when an average daily passenger footfall of 2.29 million was registered. The last time the metro had comparable traffic was in March 2015, when a 2.31 million footfall was recorded. Since then, the average daily ridership had never dipped below 2.4 million.
The DMRC has admitted that the fare hike hit traffic but said that passengers are taking longer trips. In January 2015, on an average, the Delhi metro passenger used to travel 15.61 km which increased to 16.05 km in January 2016, 16.31 km in January 2017 and 16.93 km in January 2018, revealed the RTI query.
“Numbers are not the real measure to calculate the impact. We must look at the fleet utilisation, which has increased despite the fare hike. Passengers are taking longer journeys and overall passengers travelling km has increased,” DMRC managing director Mangu Singh said.
On May 10 last year, the minimum passenger fare on the Metro was increased from Rs 8 to Rs 10 and the maximum fare from Rs 30 to Rs 50 — the first fare hike in the Capital’s favourite mode of transportation since September 2009.
The second hike, applicable from October 10, made rides costlier by up to Rs 10 for those who travelled more than two kilometers. There are chances that the Delhi Metro fare might go up again from January 1, 2019, officials said.
“Any mode choice, whether it is private car or cycle rickshaw or public transport, is made on four factor- affordability, accessibility, reliability and flexibility. Now the moment, you reduce any of the parameters, it is going to reduce the number of people opting for this. The moment you increase you fare, you are going to see an impact on ridership,” said Ryan Christopher Sequeira, deputy manager of transport planning with DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System).
Last year’s fare hike was the fourth such exercise since the Delhi Metro began operations in 2002. When Delhi Metro started on December 25, 2002, the minimum fare was Rs 4 and maximum was Rs 8. Now, it is Rs 10 and Rs 60, respectively.
The DMRC had said the hike was needed because the operating ratio – the ratio of money spent on maintenance and infrastructure to total earnings – had dramatically increased since 2011. For example, the tariffs of electricity, which accounts for a third of the DMRC’s total operating costs, had jumped by 90% between 2009 and 2017.
The Metro was all set to cross the one billion passenger mark in a calendar year in 2017 but the fare hike lead to a fall. As against the 993 million passengers in 2016, the metro recorded 967 million in 2017.
DMRC released traffic data on Thursday and said the highest ridership achieved in December 2017 was 25.64 lakh while in January 2018, the same figure stood at 26.85 lakh. DMRC did not reveal the exact date when this traffic was registered. The highest ridership in February has been even higher at 26.98 lakh. According to the RTI data, the average per day ridership in January was 22.93 lakh, in January it was 23.63 lakh and in February it again increased to 24.42 lakh.
DMRC also claimed that metro ridership, after a drop in October, 2017, is registering a steady increase. In January 2018, the overall ridership of the Delhi Metro was 69,000 more than the preceding month, indicating an upward trend.
Continuing the upward trend, the average monthly ridership increased further by 80,000 passengers in February.
According to Ryan, there will be some natural growth in comparison with previous month as the city is growing but the correct way of comparison is to see whether the growth rate was more in the last year.
In January 2017, the number of additional passengers was 22,000 in comparison to the previous month which again increased to 1.41 lakh in February 2017.
However, if you compare it with the same month in the previous year, the traffic in January 2018 was 4.05 lakh less than in January 2017 and in February 2018 it was 4.91 lakh less than in February 2017.
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