WHY METROS ARE NOT OPERATING IN INDIA IN LOCKDOWN 4.0?

When the lockdown in India was extended on 17 May to 31 May as lockdown 4.0 many services that were prohibited earlier started. While public transport advocates rejoiced the starting of operations of bus operations, the decision to keep metros across India shut came as a surprise.

All metros is India function in an organised manner with access controlled gates, security and frisking at entry of the station, disciplined queuing for purchase of tickets, smart cards and entry of platforms. Metros in India are well placed to take measures for management of Covid-19, through regular sanitisation, crowd control, social distancing and ensuring all passengers wear masks,

However keeping metros shut in lockdown 4.0 makes us wonder what has been the reason behind such a drastic decision. Metros form an integral part in public transport services of an Indian city. Public transport in India is inadequate, that has led to a surge in private vehicles, leading to a situation where road based public transport is a casualty in sharing the same road space and a victim of low speeds that congestion brings with itself. Inadequate public transport has also led to development of a huge unregulated informal sector in terms of shared autorickshaws, small buses and many more to further add to the woes.

Now that economic activities are gradually pacing towards normal, it is important to open an essential service such as metro rail to ensure economic activities are not restricted by people’s ability to commute to their workplaces.

As on date India is at the 10th position in the list of countries if we consider number of Covid cases. If we look at these countries none of these had this stringent a lockdown that India has gone through since 25 March 2020. None of these countries completely halted their public transport. A snapshot of scenario of metros as of today in these countries is below

S.No

Country

City

Situation

Other information

1

Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Reduced Service

Train schedule adjusted to current ridership (maintaining passenger occupation at a 2 pax/m² maximum).  Three stations near city borders have access restricted to essential workers, following Government measures.

2

France

Paris

Reduced Service

During most severe lockdown period, Metro services were reduced 30% to 50% of normal service depending on lines; service is back to 75% to 100% depending on the lines.  Run only from 6:00 to 22:00. Several metro stations remain closed.

3

France

Marseille

Reduced service

Service raised to summer timetable after 11 May. Service ends at 22:00.

4

France

Lyon

Reduced service

Aim to provide 85% of normal service after 11 May

5

Germany

Berlin

Normal service

From 4/05 trains run to their regular timetables.

6

Germany

Hamburg

Normal service

Normal service maintained, enhancement services that have been found not to be necessary have been removed. After midnight on the weekends U3 will only run every 20mins.

7

Italy

Milan

Normal service

During the most severe lockdown measures (Phase 1), service was reduced (Saturday service on weekdays and holiday service on Saturday)

8

Russian Federation

Moscow

Normal service

 

9

Spain

Barcelona

Reduced service

After Spain government announced certain categories of workers can restart activity, metro and bus service has been increased: 40-65% of normal service, with peaks of up to 70% to respond to the busiest lines and times

As of 7 May normal service (TMB)

10

Spain

Bilbao

Reduced service

Night service cancelled since 15/march.  Day service reduced to 54% on weekly basis (around 58% on labour days)

12

Spain

Madrid

Normal service

 

13

United Kingdom

London

Reduced service

60% service is operating. By 18 May, increasing service levels to at least 70% . Aiming to restore the Circle Line and to re-open some of the 37 stations that have been closed for several weeks.

14

United States of America

Los Angeles

Reduced service

 

15

United States of America

New York City

Reduced service

From 25/03, certain services do not run (incl. B, W, Z) though all the affected stations continue to be served by other lines. Several express lines now local or local in sections of their route. Service is no longer 24h, closed between 01:00 and 05:00 for cleaning and maintenance

16

United States of America

Washington DC

Reduced service

Weekdays 5am -9pm every 20mins/line (Red Line every 15mins) - Weekends 8am-9pm every 30mins/line (Red Line every 20mins) 19 Stations closed

17

Turkey

Istanbul

 

 

Source: UITP Compilation, Coronavirus (Covid-19) Flash update – Service and ridership of 70+ locations across various modes

 

As it is quite evident, nowhere across the world metros has been completely stopped India can take its cues and open this essential service at the earliest.

India needs to trust its metro authorities and operators and ease out on its lockdown regulations. A glimpse of the preparedness of a few metros across the country should build further confidence.

Delhi Metro

Delhi Metro is all geared up to resume services in compliance with the safety norms once the order comes from authorities. From thermal scanners to test temperature of commuters to stickers on social distancing norms pasted on seats and platform floors, the Delhi Metro has been preparing to handle commuters as per the safety guidelines, anticipating resumption in services. The sources said arrangements are being made to install a hand sanitiser dispenser near the security doors just before the frisking areas inside metro station premises
Stickers on social distancing norms have been pasted at regular intervals on seats inside train coaches.

Red lines have been drawn at regular intervals next to AFC gates and security checking gates, just before commuters enter near the platform areas. On platform floors, large stickers bearing 'Ensure Social Distancing' message have been pasted at regular intervals with a white circle bordered by an outer red circle to alert commuters.    Source: Economic Times 26 May 2020

Chennai Metro

Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) is all set to start regular operations once it gets the nod from the state government. Several measures have been planned which include use of warning stickers and markings on floors at stations and on seats inside trains, use of smart cards instead of tokens and contactless ticketing using bar codes. Simple instructions like not to touch staircase railings and urging people to maintain physical distance while boarding lift are already put up on front doors of stations.     Source: Times of India 26 May 2020

Noida Metro

Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) is all set to resume its Aqua Line services after the end of the lockdown and is awaiting nod from the Centre and the state government. Only the passengers with face mask or covered (face) will be allowed. Every passenger will be screened by thermal sensors. The limiting temperature for travel permission will be as 37.7 degrees centigrade. Passengers having 'Aarogya Setu' app with safe status will only be allowed. Persons entering NMRC premises will have to apply hand sanitiser which will be made available after screening of the person.      Source: Livemint 18 May 2020

We really hope that after 31 May 2020 the central and the state governments open up the metros across the country and citizens are able to move towards normalcy.