Millennium Post

Delhi Metro: Ten years and counting

It has been ten years and unlike most institutions in the country it is yet to show signs of decline. We are talking about the Delhi Metro, which has just finished ten years of operation and has yet clocked very high in approval ratings among commuters in Delhi. When the metro started with just 8 km of operation in 2002, no one really thought that by 2010 it would spread across 200 km and will continue beyond it to give excellent services to the city with high rate of punctuality, wonderful speed and duration between trains, safety and security, well-behaved and helpful staff, minimal disruption, well-anointed mounting of maps and announcements in stations, blemish free train infrastructure with capacity to ferry a whopping 2 million people a day! But it is clear that the Delhi metro has done all of this with élan and will continue to do so.

No wonder a new survey has revealed that metro has become not just an integral part of Delhi but virtually its backbone, upon which the navigability of the city rests and on which its future course of development will depend. In a country like India where the abysmal failure of public transport is the norm rather than exception, the metro is a shining example and is an ample display that if we want to make things happen, if we do not let corruption or bad practices eat into your system, we can achieve a degree of success. But more often than not, we let go our best practices for ulterior gains and the biggest loser is the Indian public life.

The metro is also a testimony that how mass transit can change the nature and definition of a city. Before the metro, most of the sub-cities that cling to Delhi were only nominally, loosely bound to Delhi. But the metro has made possible for places like Dwarka and Gurgaon, Noida and Badarpur to integrate organically with Delhi. Any city with global aspirations must integrate its suburbs and the metro has helped Delhi achieve that. And that could also become its Achilles’ heel. The major headache that metro faces is crowd management.

The future of the metro will depend on how it attracts the mass and yet keeps its best practices and appeal, for the ordinary commuter, undeterred.
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