New Delhi: Delhi Metro cruelly killed my “acche din”.
Metro fares have been doubled in just four months, forcing me to give up my favourite mode of transport and take to crowded DTC buses.
Besides putting the new fares beyond my budget, I have also been stripped off the safety of travelling in the Metro. And I am not the only one.
My biggest shock came two days after the latest Metro fare hike. I commute daily between Green Park in south Delhi and Noida Sector 16 where I work.
As I punched my smart card while leaving the Sector 16 station, my heart skipped a beat — Rs 37 had been deducted from my card.
By the time I reached my office, the mental calculation was already done. I realised every month I would have to spend double of what I was shelling out only five months ago if I wanted to use the Delhi Metro.
When the year began, I was spending Rs 18 on my Metro ride — one way. The Metro then hiked the fares and my one-way cost shot up to Rs 27. The latest hike had taken it to Rs 37!
This was hard for me to digest. The sudden hike of almost Rs 20, that too one way, was surely going to painfully pinch my wallet.
When I landed in Delhi five years ago, my friends advised me to avail the Metro, not just because it is safe for women but comfortable too, never mind the crushing rush during peak hours.
Most important, as I realised very soon, the Metro was affordable. It was so cheap that while an auto-rickshaw would charge me a minimum of Rs 25 from my home to the nearest Metro station, the Metro charged me only Rs 18 all the way from south Delhi to Noida in Uttar Pradesh. This was too good to be true.
Since I came from Kolkata, where the minimum Metro fare was only Rs 4 and the maximum Rs 12, Delhi Metro initially seemed costly.
But I realised the full story in no time once I started using the Delhi Metro. The infrastructure, service and overall facilities provided by Delhi Metro were far better compared to Kolkata.
Delhi Metro offers free WiFi, its stations have coffee shops and the bigger ones even host fast food chains. Travel is hassle-free despite the odd technical snags that hit the Blue Line that I use.
But suddenly charging a salaried person like me Rs 40 more, or Rs 1,200 a month, just because the Metro needs to finance itself better is something I cannot appreciate.
Like numerous others, I have changed my mode of transport. It is now the DTC buses. The DTC’s frequency may not match the Metro’s and DTC rides can be bumpy too, not to talk of unending traffic jams. But do I have a choice?
(Somrita Ghosh is a reporter with IANS. The views expressed are personal. She can be contacted at email@example.com)