Mumbai's lifeline seems to have witnessed a dip in its biggest source of revenue: passenger tickets. According to data compiled by the Western Railways, the local trains have seen a drop in the number of commuters using WR's suburban train services.
The statistics compiling the sale of card tickets and season tickets — considered as primary data for collating passenger count in local trains- has seen a huge drop of 5.5 per cent, which in actual numbers, is 4.75 crore passengers less till November this year.
This brings down the daily drop in people using the local trains by just over one lakh. WR sources said that these figures are comparing the number of passengers who bought tickets from April 2014 to November 2015 this year. WR compiled these figures after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu set up the Suburban Accident Committee. He had asked for data regarding passenger growth between Andheri and Virar.
Officials claim, that out of the 36 suburban stations between Churchgate and Dahanu Road, only three stations have seen a growth in number of people buying tickets and passes.
Small, faraway mercies
However, these stations are the far end of Mumbai and its metropolitan region, namely Nalasopara, Virar and Saphale stations. Compared to the previous year, the maximum growth was seen at Nalasopara station, at 5.51 per cent i.e 26.9 lakh more passengers starting from the station. A small station like Saphale has seen a miniscule growth of 2.2 per cent but this percentage translates into ticket sales of one lakh people annually.
This statistic is followed by Virar — earlier the last suburban station on WR — that has seen a 3.27 per cent rise, resulting in 14.58 lakh more passengers. “This shows that people are gradually migrating northwards. There is a need for offices and commercial set ups to begin there as well,” said a WR official. Property and real estate rates are said to be one of the major reasons behind the northward drift.
Seasonal passes dip
Meanwhile, the season passes, which comprise over 65 per cent of the total ticket sales in the suburban section, have also seen a drop. In terms of numbers, Umroli Road, situated between Virar and Dahanu, has seen a 100 per cent drop.
Churchgate station, WR's headquarters, has seen the maximum drop in number of season pass buyers at 23.51 per cent or over 60 lakh people not buying them. Marine Lines and Charni Road stations follow Churchgate here too.
In the western suburbs, Dahisar and Dahanu Road have seen above 10 per cent drop in season pass holders while the rest have seen a single digit drop. The centrally located Dadar station too has seen a drop in both season passes and daily tickets at 4.81 percent or a good 17 lakh less passengers.
As far as card ticket sales are concerned, Andheri — a major hub connecting the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro rail — has seen a drop of 14.9 lakh people. It is followed by Borivli (9.2 lakh) and Dadar (8.04 lakh) stations.