New DelhiI, 2 July
With the showcase Airport Express line of the Metro reeling under problems such as high fares, less ridership, bad connectivity and low speed coupled with no revenue, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is now planning a four-point plan to improve operations.
According to sources, though the process is at an initial stage, the DMRC may start working on slashing fares. "Fares are too high and if this continues, no improvement is expected as the line will continue to suffer losses. Any public transport should be viable and pocket-friendly," said an official.
Sources claimed the Metro will not reduce fares in the near future. It will take some time as out of the project cost of Rs 5,600 crore, Reliance Infra had invested Rs 2,800 crore. "Of the equity and debts, now the DMRC has to compensate an amount of Rs 2,000 crore and even more. If fares are slashed, it will be difficult for DMRC to manage the debt," said an official, adding that property development is also being contemplated.
"To earn revenue, the DMRC will develop real estate in vacant spaces so that earnings are recovered soon. Also, it will help covering the debt which is an additional burden apart from less operational revenue. Reliance Infra had also planned that during the operation but it failed to do so as even real estate prices dipped during their tenure," said the official.
He said DMRC is working to start a shuttle service from Aerocity to IGI to get more revenue and ridership.
"Till these factors are improved, the condition of the line will continue to be the same. Regular commuters do not want to shell out such high fares to travel to work daily. Apart from this, reduction in speed has cost the ‘high speed corridor’ its image. It is now travelling at 70 per cent less speed. The DMRC is also planning to work on it," said the official.
To reach the station from IGI and vice versa, commuters face an uphill task. "Once the DMRC comes up with shuttle service, people will start using it as it will be easier for passengers to travel easily," he said.