Crowding, unruly behaviour derail the promise of next-gen transport.
The metro project was initiated with the aim to reduce the bustle of daily railway commuters, but — as Mumbaikars have come to experience — a metro journey during the morning peak hours can be as exacting. This situation is not unique to the men’s compartment but the female bogie as well. And if you start a commute to Ghatkopar from Andheri, you can forget about any relief before Jagruti Nagar station, which is the second last station. A return ticket costs Rs 55, which is almost twice the price of a local train ticket. Nowadays the metro has become the equivalent to a local train, the only benefit being that the former is air-conditioned and, therefore, a little bearable. But when it is too crowded, all distinctions between the two modes of transport blur.
Despite the queues and barricades at metro station platforms, commuters tend to make a dash for already full bogies rather than wait for three minutes for the next one.
A regular on the route, Asifa Shaikh, has some suggestions for the authorities in terms of reining in the chaos during peak hours. “There should be separate queues for ticket punching, and pass owners should have a separate line as token holders take much more time to clear the entrance,” says the 25-year-old student. She adds, “The timings are same at times for services that run on both ways so people have to rush so they don’t miss them.” Speaking about the overcrowding situation, Sandhya Singh says it all boils down to people’s response to the facility. “There is no place to stand in the morning. They should at least regulate the number of people who board the bogies at one go.” Sandhya is sceptical about this, though. “I doubt whether commuters would cooperate should this become a regulation because everyone is in a rush in the morning,” she sees.
Metro staff at the platform also finds it difficult to rein in regular commuters. Says 29-year-old Vijay (name changed), “At least seven attendees are present on one side to help commuters, but nobody wants to wait for the next train. If we stop them, they fight with us and say we don’t have right to stop them.” He adds, “People are used to local trains and regard the metro the same way. They board the nearest bogie to the escalator or stairs, leaving rest of the bogies with enough space.”
Dismissing claims that metro staffers push unruly commuters, Vijay says, “We don’t push anyone. At times passengers forcefully open the door and want to get in. And if they are stopped, they accuse us of delaying them.” Commuters are aware of the situation but have also acknowledged the fact that they too are in a too much of rush to wait for the next service. “People also need to be civilised. Some stand by the door even if they have to get down after many stations, which is why crowding occurs at the doors,” says Asifa.