Delhi Metro: World's second most Unaffordable in the World?
Delhi Metro: World's second most Unaffordable in the World? | Credit: Indiatoday

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Delhi Metro: World's second most Unaffordable in the World?

Sep 06, 2018

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment says, among metro systems, the Delhi Metro charges a little less than half a US dollar for a trip and hence it is the second-most unaffordable in the world. The report is based on data from the UBS report on Price and Earning, 2018. According to the report by CSE, an unskilled daily-wage labourer in Delhi has to spend 14 per cent of their income for using the Delhi Metro, making it cheaper.

30% of Delhi Metro commuters have a monthly income of Rs 20,000 and the percentage of income spent on daily commute was as high as 19.5%. CSE reported that globally up to 15% of household income is taken as the upper cap for transport to be affordable. The bottom 20% of households should not spend more than 10% of their income on transport. In Delhi, 34% of the population stands excluded from basic non-AC bus services, since it is unaffordable. Adding the cost of making interchanges drives the total journey cost even higher.     

If the projection of 39.5 lakh riders made two years ago for 2018 is compared with the actual figure of 27 lakhs at present, the fare hike had led to 46% drop in ridership.

The report also adds, "If this spending were to be around 3-4 per cent, the person could save up to Rs 60 per day. This could mean around 1.5 to 2 litres of milk every day for the family. A month of these savings could mean life insurance for a year for a family of four for a year for Rs 2 lakh each under the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) scheme.”

Speaking at a conclave on “Towards Clean and Low Carbon Mobility”, Anumita Roy Chowdhury (CSE) said DMRC’s fare revenues were enough to meet the operating expenditure up to 2016-17, but the Fourth Fare Fixation Committee had taken into account forecasts of revenues and expenses to justify the fare hike.

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.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "As CM of Delhi, I feel very sad that such an important means of transport has become out of reach for the common man. All those who have given up Metro are now contributing to Delhi's pollution by using road-based transport."

Delhi’s transport commissioner Varsha Joshi said that Delhi Metro fares should be part of an indexed and graded system, hence “politics can’t enter that equation” and also she justified the fare revision. 

“The Delhi government is augmenting transport infrastructure through land pooling in some areas. It is also considering using paratransit for last mile connectivity. While the government is planning to acquire 3,000 buses, there is a need to improve bus shelters and ancillary infrastructure,” she added.

CSE director general Sunita Narain said: “Growing dependence on personal vehicles for urban commute can lead to irreversible trends and damages.” Besides Narain also added: “Greenhouse gas emissions from transport, the third highest among all sectors, has recorded the steepest increase. This is also responsible for health-damaging toxic exposure.”

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. Also DMRC said the study was selective as it only compared Metros with smaller networks.

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