Metro Railway is set to raise fares by up to Rs 12 after Durga Puja and do away with discounts on smart cards in a bid to rationalise the ratio between operating costs and passenger load.
The railway ministry’s nod for the first hike in 12 years came on Tuesday, coinciding with a Metro report that highlighted how the city’s transport lifeline was creaking under the burden of increased load and low earnings.
The minimum recommended fare is Rs 5 for a 5km journey, a one-rupee hike that could still pinch less than bus and auto fares for travelling the same distance.
The maximum fare will be raised from Rs 13 to Rs 25, railway ministry officials said.
Smart-card holders would cease to enjoy the discount on fares for travel across various distances, but the bonus of 10 per cent on every purchase or renewal would be retained.
“The idea of offering a discount on smart cards was to make it popular among daily commuters and reduce congestion at the booking counters,” a Metro official said.
Since bonus rides would be retained, officials are confident that smart-card use wouldn’t decline.
Metro Railway, which earns 85 per cent of its revenue from passenger travel, had last revised fares on October 1, 2001. That was an across-the-board hike by a rupee in the form of a development charge.
Sources said Metro Railway had sent an SOS to the railway ministry last week, warning of a breakdown in services because of the increase in passenger load.
On Monday, it ferried a record 8.1 lakh passengers, the third occasion in two weeks that the previous milestone was breached.
The Metro has been ferrying nearly 7.5 lakh people each working day since the festival rush started. Monday’s count of 8.1 lakh was 2.4 lakh more than its daily capacity of 5.67 lakh with the full fleet in operation. It had a footfall of 7.73 lakh passengers on September 30.
Officials attribute the rush to stagnant fares, the dwindling fleet of city buses and the extension of Metro routes.
The current minimum fare of Rs 3 for a 5km Metro ride is cheaper than a 3km bus journey worth Rs 5.
Delhi Metro’s minimum fare will remain higher than Calcutta’s at Rs 8 for the first 2km even after the revision. Bangalore Metro’s minimum fare is Rs 10 for the first 3km.
Metro Railway spent Rs 3.07 for every rupee it earned from fares in 2012-13, making for an expenditure-earning ratio far more skewed than the railways’ slightly less than 90 paise for every rupee.
Ministry officials said that for every ticket worth Rs 4, Metro Railway had been spending Rs 8.37. Officials hope to reduce spending to Rs 2 for every rupee earned after the fare hike.
Minimum fare for 5km
- Existing: Rs 4
- Proposed: Rs 5
Maximum fare for 25km
- Existing: Rs 13
- Revised: Rs 25
- Discounts on rides to be withdrawn
- Bonus to remain on purchase and recharge