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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.
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.
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 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 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.