Puri suggests discounted metro fare for senior citizens, students
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said he proposed the Delhi metro to evolve a mechanism to offer special or discounted fares for students and senior citizens to offset the burden of fare hike on them effected last year.
The housing and urban affairs minister said technology has to be developed to implement the scheme and ensure it is not misused.
“At least, there should be some special fares for senior citizens and students. We have already proposed that to the Delhi metro. I’ve asked the Delhi metro chief to find out some way. We will do it,” he told PTI.
Puri, however, said the initiative should not be considered as “populist” and that it would be within the framework of the law.
Stressing that technology was a great tool to prevent corruption, Puri said a solution would be found out through technology that would assure that benefits reach the targeted group and is not misused.
Currently, there has been no discount on fares for any category of passengers travelling on the Delhi metro.
The former bureaucrat, however, did not specify any time-frame for implementation of the special tariffs for students and senior citizens.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is a 50:50 joint venture between the Centre and the Delhi government. Its fare are revised on the recommendation of a Fare-Fixation Committee (FFC).
Metro fares were hiked by up to 100 per cent across multiple distance slabs last year after two-phase fare hike effected in May and October on recommendation of the FFC, chaired by Justice (Retd) M L Mehta, which also had the Delhi chief secretary and the additional secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development on board.
On November 24, the DMRC’s response to an RTI application found that metro lost three lakh commuters per day following the October-10 hike, triggering a slugfest between the Kejriwal government and the Centre.
Kejriwal said the fare hike was “killing” the metro and pushing commuters away from it, while Puri had maintained the fall in ridership could not be solely attributed to the fare hike and factors such as an extra Sunday, Diwali and Chhath Puja may also have been responsible.
Speaking on the issue, Puri said it was not his ministry’s decision but the FFC’s which hiked the fare as the tariffs were not revised for 8-9 years.
“I didn’t do it (fare hike) and neither I nor Kejriwal could stop it,” he said, adding the Delhi metro has to repay the loan it has taken for carrying out its projects.
“If you do not increase the fare then what will you do? How will you return the money? If you are not able to repay the loan, will anybody give you money next time you need it?”
Puri said it was wrong to say that the fare hike led lower footfall and stressed that there have been “definite” increase in the number of passengers.
An official said that since the last year’s fare hike, there has been an increase in the number of travellers taking long journey on the Delhi metro, while a decline in short-distance travels.
Puri also suggested a number of ways to increase the revenue of the Delhi metro that included advertisements and commercial exploitation of the land.
The Union minister said Kejriwal would meet him on Monday to discuss various issues related to Delhi, including the phase-IV of the metro project and ongoing sealing drive.