Domestic low-cost carriers not operating from Terminal 3 has been a “setback” for the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro, DMRC chief Mangu Singh has said.
Although the premium corridor has scripted a turnaround of sorts with daily ridership touching a high of 50,000 in August this year, Singh suggested that the numbers could have been more had things panned out as per plan.
When the 23-km-long corridor was being contemplated, it was planned that complete flight operations, including domestic, will be from T3, he said, but “we do not know” why authorities decided to continue with Terminal 1. “This is really a setback because we believe that passengers of domestic carriers use public transport. T3 people mostly travel in their own vehicles. However, we are running a feeder service between the two terminals and that has helped to some extent,” Singh said.
At the planning stage, it was also envisaged that property development would be a major source of revenue for the corridor but low ridership was coming in its way, which prompted metro to slash fares, he said. The idea was that when footfall increases property development will follow, Singh said.
Fares were cut by up to 50% in September last year to popularise the relatively expensive line that connects New Delhi Railway Station to T3. The maximum fare has been reduced to Rs 60 from Rs 180 while the minimum is Rs 10 against Rs 50 in 2013.
As metro already had a robust system in place, operating the Airport corridor was not much of a challenge when it took over the operations from a private concessionaire in July 2013. “We had one big advantage because we were already operating a system. There were many things that we could simply absorb. Control centre was shifted here, similarly maintenance staff was shared. We could bring in a lot of efficiency as per operational and maintenance cost is concerned,” he said.
As per official data, the average daily ridership figure of July, 2013, was 10,069. It subsequently rose to around 12,000 in March 2014 and further to 19,466 a year later.
On August 28, 2015, more than 32,000 people had taken the corridor, also known as Orange Line and a year later it recorded the highest-ever ridership of 50,000.