A day after the first corridor of the Delhi Metro was launched by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in December 2002, the rush was so "massive" that paper tickets had to be issued to handle the flow of passengers, many of whom thronged stations more out of curiosity than the need to commute, officials said.
A day after the first corridor of the Delhi Metro was launched by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in December 2002, the rush was so “massive” that paper tickets had to be issued to handle the flow of passengers, many of whom thronged stations more out of curiosity than the need to commute, officials said.
Vajpayee, who died on August 16 after prolonged illness, had inaugurated the 8.2-km stretch between Tis Hazari and Shahdara stations of the Red Line on December 24. The corridor was thrown open for passenger services the next day, coinciding with his 78th birthday.
“Besides, tokens and smart cards, paper tickets were issued on the first day of service (December 25, 2002) itself. People queued up from 1 am onwards, so that they could be the first to board the metro train,” a top DMRC official said.
After the state-of-the-art rapid transit system was introduced in the city, many people somehow believed it was there only temporarily, and thus the DMRC had to issue advertisements in newspapers to tell the people “it was here to stay”.
“Advertisements were issued after the first day of the operations as there was tremendous rush of passengers, and we required the public to come in a staggered fashion. We wanted to convey to them that the metro was going to be here in the city permanently,” DMRC’s Executive Director for Corporate Communications, Anuj Dayal, told PTI.
The new all-elevated corridor that connected Tis Hazari in west Delhi to Shahdara in the eastern part of the city, also had a new system of Automatic Fare Collection (AFC), which includes automatic gate machines, ticket vending and ticket checking machines. The Shahdara-Tis Hazari section has six stations.
“Paper tickets were kept in addition to the tokens and smart cards, as a fall-back mechanism, in case there were initial issues with the new AFC system,” he said.
On the day of the inauguration, Vajpayee had “boarded a brand new train from Kashmere Gate station of the metro”.
“He had even bought a smart card from a counter to enter the paid area of the station. It was a momentous day for Delhi,” the senior DMRC official said.
Vajpayee and other guests after boarding the train from Kashmere Gate alighted at Seelampuri station. A function was later held where the then prime minister officially flagged off the service, he said.
“It (metro) was the realisation of a long-cherished dream and fulfilment of a dire need for Delhiites. Being the capital of the world’s largest democracy, Delhi witnesses a population surge and needs basic facilities to make life comfortable for the citizens,” Vajpayee had said after the inauguration.
In these nearly 16 years, the Delhi Metro network has now expanded to 296 km, with multiple corridors, and has 214 stations. An average of about 27 lakh commuters use it every day.
The Red Line, now connecting Rithala to Dilshad Garden, has itself stretched to over 25 km.
At the inauguration of the 4.5-km Tis Hazari-Inderlok (then Trinagar) section, the second stretch of the network, on October 3, 2003, Vajpayee had said, “Introduction of a fast and efficient metro system in the city was already late but it should now gain momentum.”