Daily commuters on the Metro are a harassed lot. Jostling through packed Metro coaches, getting bags stuck between the door flaps, doors not closing properly while commuters are almost being pushed into the platform, station names being announced wrongly-the plight of the Metro commuters is inching from bad to worse daily.
With the Puja shopping crowd already hitting the streets in increasing numbers, their presence in the overcrowded coaches is leaving the regular commuters gasping for breath.
It was an ordeal for Soumen Halder who boarded a Dum Dum-bound Metro at 11 am from Tollygunge today. He found himself moving towards the door under the pressure of a human wall when a passenger’s bag got stuck in between the door flaps.
Despite several attempts by Soumen and other commuters the door closed with the bag in between the rubber padding of the door while the train started to move. The bag remained stuck and could be pulled out only after the train reached Park Street where the door on the opposite side opened. Raja Mallick, a resident of Lake Gardens, of late, is avoiding boarding the Metro between 5 p.m. to 7.30 p.m, after the journey during this period became arduous for him.
“Travelling in Metro particularly during peak office hours in the evening has become extremely difficult owing to the huge rush. The coaches are so crowded, that finding some space for standing is like a battle, while breathing becomes impossible,” rued the content writer.
Apart from the unbearable crowd and door glitches, at least 15 commuters, for whom Metro is actually their life-line, complained of station names being announced wrongly and trains being skipped.
“I’ve observed that while the expected arrival time of a train is 11.00 a.m. and it actually arrives with a delay of 10 to 15 minutes, there is no mention of the next train scheduled to arrive between 11.00 a.m and 11.15 a.m,” claimed a commuter, travelling between Kavi Subhash and Chandni Chowk, twice daily.
The skipping of trains coupled with the delay, according to these 15 regular commuters, results in huge crowd at the stations and packed coaches. “We often let go two or three trains intentionally hoping that the next one is less crowded but at last are forced to board a Metro which is more crowded.
Last Monday, on reaching Khudiram Metro Station, the name was announced wrongly as Netaji. We have heard such announcements with wrong station names for four days consecutively. The commuters’ difficulties, however, appear to be far from being resolved soon.
Metro officials agreed that while the pre-Puja footfall is almost close to last year’s figures, the reduction in the number of services from 300 to 284 on weekdays is one of the problems that are plaguing the city’s Metro.
The only hope of the commuters, in such situations, was a Medha rake that was expected to be added to the present fleet before Durga Puja, but that is still under repair. “The Medha rake from the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, that was supposed to be rolled out before the Pujas, is yet to arrive in the city,” said a Metro railway official.