Poor upkeep of feeder buses taking a toll on Metro ridership
NEW DELHI: While the Delhi Metro network is fast expanding, that of the Metro feeder service seems to be lagging considerably.
With only 42 routes operational, on which just 291 buses ply, the feeder bus service has failed to bridge the gap between commuters and the Metro at several places. Moreover, only half of the 291 buses are seen to be operational, with most of the remaining bus lying broken down at five bus depots.
Sandeep Singal, a resident of Dwarka and regular Metro commuter said, "The distance between the station and my apartment in Sector-21 is around five kilometres. Yet, the Delhi Metro has no feeder service running here. You either have to take a rickshaw or ask someone to pick you up from the station."
Another commuter, Aditi Pal, who stays in Patparganj, says the lack of a proper feeder service is acute in her colony. "The station nearest to my residence is Preet Vihar, which is otherwise ideal as my office is in Jhandewalan on the same line. But commuting from my apartment to the station everyday is a hassle, as auto-rickshaw drivers charge a bomb."
A Metro feeder bus operator points out, "Every time, a buzz that a new fleet of feeder bus in generated. But nothing has come out yet. Shastri Park to Mayor Vihar Phase III is the oldest route in the Metro feeder route and our buses are almost ten years old."
He added that 30 buses were in demand, but only 25 were sanctioned. A decade later, at least three to five buses have broken down during the route services.
Many such feeder buses are in a dilapidated condition now, while commuters continue complaining. "These buses have no side window panes, no ticket distributions, no complaint redressal," rued a daily commuter from Shastri Park station.
Though Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) claims having tried reaching out to as many colonies along the Metro route as possible, the fact remains that the lack of an extensive feeder bus service is limiting the Metro's ridership.
Meanwhile, a DMRC official said, "The primary responsibility of Delhi Metro is Metro services. Management of the feeder services should ideally be with the state transport agency."
Officials say there have been several talks with the Delhi government to hand over management of the feeder services, but nothing has materialised yet.
Another commuter says: "I know many who avoid taking the Metro because of the hassle of finding a connecting transport service to Preet Vihar station."
Routes like ML 15 (near Pitampura station), ML 20 (Kirti Nagar to Pushpanjali) and ML 39 (Kirti Nagar to Naraina Vihar) are some of the most crowded feeder service routes, where better services are needed.
In 2014, DMRC had introduced 24 feeder buses, from its first fleet of 400 buses. The second fleet is yet to be inducted, in spite of several reminders.
Sources claim DMRC has been unable to find an operator for the next fleet of 300 air-conditioned buses. The buses were supposed to be operational by March this year, but DMRC reportedly has not even taken delivery of the vehicles from the manufacturer.
Experts feel that the task of running feeder buses should be handed over to DTC.
"DMRC does not have the competence to run the feeder bus system. There are serious problems in the procurement of vehicles and their design, route planning and implementation," said an official at Indian Federation of Transportation Research and Training.