(This story originally appeared in on Sep 22, 2020)

New Delhi: With Monday marking 15 days of resumption of Delhi Metro services after more than five months, the footfall has seen a steady rise and operations have “stabilised” according to the new normal. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is likely to scale down additional manpower deputed for ensuring safety norms with most passengers adapting to the current arrangements.

On day one, when only Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli-HUDA City Centre) was opened as part of the graded resumption of services, only around 15,500 passengers travelled. But the number kept rising as other corridors gradually opened up. September 14, the first Monday since all corridors became operational and DMRC reverted to the old service timings of 6am to 11pm, saw nearly 2.5 lakh passengers.

The “line utilisation” figure on September 14 was 6.8 lakh. This is calculated by the number of corridors used by a passenger to reach his destination. By September 18, the figure went up to 8 lakh. Compared with the average figure of 54.2 lakh recorded in September 2019, the dip was 86%.

A DMRC spokesperson said, “As services resumed in a graded manner, when all corridors were not operational and service timings were not the same, there can’t be an absolute comparison in terms of line utilisation growth at this stage.”

“There has not been much of a rush at stations and in trains even during peak hours. Though queues form outside busy stations, social distancing is maintained as passengers are largely cooperative. The awareness level in passengers is satisfactorily high. People have seamlessly adapted to the new normal and operations have settled,” the official said.

However, this hasn’t meant that all passengers are following safety norms diligently. DMRC had to deploy flying squads from September 11 to ensure compliance of rules. Till September 20, these squads penalised 2,214 passengers fining them Rs 200 each for not wearing face masks or not maintaining social distancing. This is apart from 5,000 passengers counselled for not wearing face masks properly or not being careful about maintaining distance.

The largest number of violators, 724, were prosecuted on Yellow Line, followed by 580 on Violet Line (Kashmere Gate-Ballabhgarh) and 545 on Blue Line (Dwarka-Vaishali/Noida Electronic City).

Apart from regular front line staff at the stations, DMRC has deployed around 1,000 personnel across the network to assist and guide passengers. “These personnel are from different departments. We have to take a decision on when they can resume their usual duties. A decision is likely to be taken by the end of this week on gradual scaling down of additional personnel, including Civil Defence volunteers at a later stage,” the official said.

Though DMRC didn’t share the exact number of passengers who travelled between September 14 and 20, the line utilisation figures revealed that the three oldest workhorses — Yellow, Blue and Red (Rithala-Shaheed Sthal) Lines — accounted for nearly 70% of the total footfall. This is despite the corridors making up only 42.5% of the total network.

Into Its 3rd Week, Delhi Metro Switches Gears...

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