The special services run by Kolkata Metro today, for aspirants of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) came as a blessing for the students who hailed the initiative of enabling a comfortable commute to their exam centres at a time when bus journeys are nothing less than a nightmare.

The city’s metro stations today came alive after 175 days since the wheels of the underground transport came to a grinding halt. Senior officials of city police visited some of the stations to check the preparedness. According to city metro officials, till 4 p.m, the total passenger count stood at 677 while the earnings were rupees 33,500.

It wasn’t just the NEET aspirants who faced a test today, but also the Metro officials. However, after the successful running of services after around five months, the Kolkata Metro authorities heaved a breath of relief and they are now confident they are prepared for the next day which is the first day of resumption of commercial services.

Asghari Mondal, who came from Murshidabad, was staying with his friend near Dum Dum. A commute to his examination centre in South Kolkata would have been a painful one if the Metro hadn’t been running. “I cannot imagine how I would have managed to reach my centre without the Metro,” said the student. “Spending hundreds on a taxi or Uber or Ola would have been impossible for me at this time. Commuting in public buses would also have been difficult and I could have been late in reporting at the centre,” he added.

Sumita Das, another NEET aspirant who appeared for the exam with five other friends, said: “Had it not been for the metro, it would have been a nightmare to commute in overcrowded public buses. The way the rush in the government and private buses is increasing every passing day, a journey in a public bus to the centre would not only be arduous, but also put us at risk of contracting the coronavirus,” pointed out the resident of Garia.

The special Metro services began running at 10 a.m. and continued till about 7 p.m. Regular passenger services on the north-south and east-west Metro lines will commence on Monday.

Officials said that 110 trains will be operated on the NorthSouth line every day, except Sundays when the services will be shut for sanitisation of rakes and stations.The EastWest Metro will also recommence services from September 14 between Sector V and Yuva Bharati Krirangan stations with 36 trains in each direction, they said.

Social distancing measures and other safety protocols in view of the Covid-19 pandemic would be in place, a Metro official said.