Metro touches pre-Covid footfall
The passenger count in north-south Metro has surpassed 6 lakh for the first time since the pandemic set in, the latest pointer to the return of the festive frenzy after two subdued Covid-scarred years.
On Monday, the passenger count was 6,20,832. The last time when the footfall crossed 6 lakh was on March 6, 2020.
On that day, the count was 6,13,452, the carrier said. Before the pandemic, the usual weekday passenger count was over 6 lakh. In the festive season, the number was much more. A Metro official said Tuesday’s count, too, crossed 6 lakh.
The September 20 footfall for 2021 and 2020 was 1.06 lakh and 37,000, respectively. In 2020, the services had resumed after a six-month gap (the services were suspended during the period because of Covid) on September 14.“There was a general upward trend in the footfall.
The Puja crowd has propelled the surge. It is a sign that things are returning to normal. We are expecting more people in the coming days,” said Metro spokesperson Ekalabya Chakraborty. Dum Dum Metro station, which is adjacent to the Dum Dum suburban railway station, alone accounted for nearly 80,000 passengers on Monday.
The Sealdah and Howrah railway divisions, too, have been witnessing increasing passenger count, said railway officials.“The daily average passenger count is nearing 18 lakh. It used to be above 20 lakh before the pandemic,” said an official in the Sealdah division. The rush of Puja shoppers headed to Calcutta from districts has led to a rise in footfall over the past couple of weeks, the official said. “Before the Puja rush, the daily count had been hovering between 15 and 16 lakh,” he said.
Rahul Chatterjee, general secretary of the All Bengal Bus and Minibus Samannay Samiti, said buses were also witnessing a “steady rise” in the number of passengers. The passenger count in north-south Metro, considered the city’s transport lifeline, is usually a marker of how busy Calcutta is.
Last week, the Metro authorities had announced that trains would run through the night from Saptami to Navami, like it used to before Covid. Metro officials said they are gearing up to tackle the Puja rush. The Puja crowd had been subdued for the past two years because of the pandemic. But this year, the usual passenger volume is expected again.“The addition of Baranagarand Dakshineswar to the north-south corridor can lead to a significant surge in the Puja passenger count this time,” said an official. In 2019, Metro Railway had carried over 9.22 lakh passengers on Panchami (October 3), an “all-time record”, according to officials.