Metro Tales#2: The Mad Rush

Delhi Metro has become the popular means of public transport for Delhites. It is keeping thousands of commuters off the roads. Just imagine if all those who commute by the metro start taking the roads, what would be the traffic conditions! But traveling by the metro during the peak hours is a mini battle too.

While commuting to office, I travel partly by road and partly by the metro. Currently, I need to travel only for a few stations, but getting in and getting out of the coach is no ordinary feat. When the trains are running on time and the train frequency is higher, the crowd don’t accumulate on the platforms. But even if a single train is delayed and the crowd builds up at the station, the rush becomes cumulative. On bad days, the queue at the entry gates (yes, main entrance to the station) goes up to the footpath outside. On other bad days, you have to skip train after train because they are already over-stuffed to get in. On such days, the passengers on the platform would actually plead with those inside to make some space for them as they had already skipped several trains.

As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, I always prefer traveling in the women’s coach. Here I don’t have to worry about inappropriate body brushing or inappropriate glances or stares, however crowded the coach is. While commuting to office, I need to board by one door and  de-board by the opposite door. So as soon as I get in, I start to make my way to the opposite side. Even doing that sometimes takes a couple of stations! The other morning, it was a case of delayed trains and the crowd was slowly building up. Luckily I could stuff myself inside the coach. But at every station, the doors were closing, reopening and then again closing several times, indicating that few or more doors were not closing properly. The reasons are again various. There might be some passengers standing next to the doors and their belongings are obstructing the doors. There might be someone who is trying to squeeze inside through the closing doors. There are even some desperate passengers who try to push apart the closing doors to get inside. That day, I believe, all of these were happening at every station. At one station, the driver actually came out and started to shout, “What the hell are you doing? Are you insane? Move away from the train!”

During the peak hours traveling in Delhi Metro is a competition. Everybody is running, pushing and shoving. “Me first” is the motto. Let me share a few things that passengers do to board the train first:

  1. They will try to bypass the queue and put their bags first on the scanning belt–On several occasions, I have fellow passengers shooing away such intruders rudely and effectively.
  2. They will try to bypass the queue at the entry gates after the security check–Here also I have seen such intruders shooed away.
  3. They will not stand in queue at the marked entry points to board the train on the platform. Even if queues are formed, they will not be respected–There was a time when I used to see queues but no more. Now it’s only a crowd of people ready to push and shove. Even the security staff are not able to control crowds while boarding trains. In most stations, such staff are missing on the platforms.
  4. They will stand beyond the demarcated yellow line on the platform–If you are standing at the yellow line, come lady would come stand ahead of you which is actually beyond the permitted area. They don’t understand that that are jeopardizing your own safety.
  5. They will not allow the de-boarding passengers to come out, but shove them back inside so that they get in first.–Once during Diwali season, I could not get down from the train at a station where I needed to change trains. Ultimately I had to get down at another station and take the road. It is continuously announced that passengers waiting on the platform should allow the passengers to de-board first. But the pulp-brains don’t get it that they will have space only when passengers get out!  
Everyday I wonder when will most Delhites start traveling in the metro rail in a disciplined manner? We need to understand that we need to facilitate the smooth running of this service especially during the mad rush hours. If we obstruct the closing of doors on time, we are only contributing to delays and consequently to more crowd. Do you have any such mad rush metro stories to share?

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