But even that is becoming suspect now. There have been numerous occasions when daily commuters of the metro have waited for more than half an hour at the Metro and finally forced to use the TSR or a cab to reach office.
This was unheard of during the tenure of Sreedharan. But it would be probably too simplistic to argue that a change of guard (after all even a Sreedharan needs a retirement) at the DMRC has led to a situation where people have started complaining about the services of the Metro we touted as world class. The DMRC which even Prince Charles (from the country where it all started- UK) was forced to admire when he travelled by it on his visit to India.
So proud were Delhites of their Metro that many States in the country are in the process of replicating its success model. But with the kind of reactions the Metro is getting nowadays will these States follow the same pattern or will they devise their own indigenous system?
Earlier there used to be announcements in the train for the delay if the train stopped anywhere for more than its due time. But now delays are so common that the DMRC will have to hire full-time announcers only to apologise for the delays. The existing coaches of the DMRC which started its service in 2001 seem to be needing a thorough overhaul to get over its technical problems.
The most common complaints from the people are about over- crowding. But that will continue to remain a bane of the city because despite all its failings the Metro remains the cheapest and fastest mode of public transport available to the common man. This is despite the fact that the common man has not yet taken the advice of some saintly leaders of the Ruling Party seriously who keep on egging them on (pun unintended) seriously.
There are some stations which have become particularly problematic where daily commuters behave like a crowd from ‘Julius Caesar,’ ready to lynch anyone who comes in its way. What is most dreadful is that this group is garnering a reputation of gangsters that we used to witness on trains some years back. I don’t know whether they exist even today.
This group will pass lewd comments on women passengers and if anyone objects he or she is told to “travel by cabs”. This is the same old argument that one used to hear from passengers traveling without reservation in trains in the bad old days.
This is a recent development. Only three years ago I was very ecstatic and I said so in writing that the Metro had brought about a cultural revolution in the NCR. This was because commuters coming from Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gurgaon or Faridabad were at their best behavior in the metros where they encountered a cultural shock looking at well-dressed and well-heeled females travelling to their place of work as a matter of routine.
Unfortunately the veneer is off. The best behavior was only in their individual capacity. Now that they have formed groups their basic instincts seem to have taken over.
By Amitabh Srivastava