DMRC offered two stop-gap options to the AAP government while raising concerns over large scale misuse of free-travel scheme. In the long term, DMRC offers to alter its fare collection scheme by introducing non transferable smart cards
Delhi Metro free rides for women: The Delhi government’s recent proposal to make Delhi Metro rides free for women is slowly picking up pace. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has prepared two short term plans for the implementation of the free metro rides scheme and has given them to the Delhi government, according to an HT report. The DMRC, in its proposal submitted to the Delhi government, stated that implementing the free travel scheme for women will result in an annual loss of around Rs 1560 crore, the report said.
Additionally, the Delhi government is also likely to extend its free travel scheme for women in Delhi Metro’s feeder buses as well. DMRC, in order to ensure last mile connectivity for women, presently operates as many as 174 feeder buses and plans to add 905 more feeder buses soon. The report added that out of Rs 1560 crore annual loss which has been estimated, around Rs 11 crore will be incurred on Delhi Metro feeder buses.
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According to the report, DMRC has offered two stop-gap options to the Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government while raising concerns over the large scale misuse of the free-travel scheme. In the long term, DMRC offers to alter its fare collection scheme by introducing non transferable smart cards. For the short term, the first option includes changing the automatic fare collection (AFC) system and identifying the beneficiaries with new preloaded smart cards. The second option involves giving the benefit to single journey side with new tokens and conducting manual checks at the station gates. Both these options will take at least six to eight months to be implemented and is likely to create losses for the long term solutions, the report said.
Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated that the Delhi government will be paying for the expenses to DMRC for the scheme. On June 3, Arvind Kejriwal had first announced that his government is working on a proposal to offer free rides to women in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, cluster buses as well as the Delhi Metro.
The idea of free public transport has been experimented across many cities around the globe. Many cities in United States and Europe have experimented with free public transport, since the 1950s. European countries like Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway have taken this initiative either for the entire population or for a few sections such as students or senior citizens. The reaction and impact on use of private cars and increased use of public tranport have been mixed.
Writing for Financial Express Online, Rajaji Meshram, Partner, Ernst & Young (EY) recently noted stated that women passengers in Delhi Metro account for around 25%-30%. As per the published DMRC annual report for the year 2017-18, the average fare box revenue per rider was specified as Rs 28. This amounts to almost one third of DMRC’s total fare box revenue for 2017-18. Putting these facts together, he concluded that women passengers contribute around Rs 700 crore-Rs 800 crore per annuum of DMRC’s top line.