The travel expenses of the daily metro commuters of Delhi-NCR are set to rise considerably as Delhi Metro Rail Corporation announced a hike in the metro fares from October 3. The announcement saw protests from the public as well as from some political parties but DMRC remained steadfast on its stance. As per DMRC, the hike is inevitable to “provide world-class service to commuters” and is “necessary” to meet the input costs.
A DMRC official was quoted saying, “To continue to provide a world-class service, it is essential to operate as a healthy organisation. However, since 2009, there has been no fare increase whereas the input cost of DMRC has increased by over 105 per cent in energy, 139 per cent in staff cost and 213 per cent for repair and maintenance.”
The DMRC asserted that fares have been fixed by the Fare Fixation Committee and that Metro fares are on par with “other metros” in the country. The official added that the Metro’s input cost has increased as it is “consistently increasing the number of trains, lifts, escalators and other passenger services that are essential in providing a world-class service”.
However, there is another side of the story too. The DMRC needs more revenue in order to pay off the huge loan that it has taken from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).“DMRC has taken a huge loan from JICA and Rs 26,760 crore is to be paid back. Moreover, the DMRC has to provide for depreciation and replacement of various assets such as the trains (rolling stock) which have a life of 30 years… Despite operating efficiently, the DMRC is making a net loss of Rs 378 crore in view of the above factors,” the corporation said.
Officials further said that increased cost in overall operations and maintenance, as the Metro system gets older, has resulted in “more maintenance procedures, preventive and corrective checks, safety and reliability checks, replacement of electrical fittings (such as insulators), base plates and rail testing”.
However, the officials also cleared that the fare burden on commuters will be reduced after Phase-III gets operational. “Once Phase-III of the Delhi Metro is fully operational, commuters on many routes will travel shorter distances and will be paying lesser fares,” the corporation said.“DMRC is constantly making efforts to reduce its operating costs by going for solar power projects and increasing energy efficiency at its stations,” an official said.
It must also be noted that the DMRC had made a net loss of Rs 378 crore in 2016-17.