Mumbaikars give Metro 1 a cautious welcome

Updated: 20 October, 2020 09:01 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar, Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Albeit with a much smaller load than suburban trains, the first day of operations of Metro 1 goes off smoothly, thanks to controlled entry, automated barriers, and ample space for distancing inside the train and on platforms

After a seven-month hiatus, the Metro resumed services on Monday to much thinner crowds than what it was used to in the pre-COVID times. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
After a seven-month hiatus, the Metro resumed services on Monday to much thinner crowds than what it was used to in the pre-COVID times. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

After a seven-month COVID-19-caused shutdown, the Mumbai Metro One opened its doors to commuters, safely and slowly, at 8.30 am on Monday. While the sanitising and the screening remain ubiquitous, the Metro management has brought about a lot of other changes, including the paper tickets that have replaced the plastic tokens. On ground to see commuters and the Metro in action first-hand, mid-day brings to you perspectives on travel amid COVID from the stations and the trains.

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While everyone can travel without exception on the Metro, its officials have requested senior citizens and children to avoid the commute for now. Read on to find out mid-day's commuting experience from start to end.

Metro has swapped the plastic tokens for paper tickets

Accessibility to stations

So far, only two gates have been kept open at the 12 stations for entry and one or two for the exit. The gateways have been segregated to allow social distancing. At Ghatkopar, the entrance near Bharat Café and the one near Ghatkopar Guest House were open. The 12-metre main Foot Overbridge (FOB) connecting the suburban railway to the Metro was shut. The entrance near Bharat Café is connected to Ghatkopar station via a skywalk. Access was monitored by Metro staff at all times.

On the Versova side, mid-day boarded the first Metro in the morning. Not only the train but also the staircases and ticketing area had stickers instructing commuters to maintain social distancing.

Metro has swapped the plastic tokens for paper tickets
Metro has swapped the plastic tokens for paper tickets

The drill inside

Once inside the Metro station, a guard points a thermal gun to the commuter's wrist that checks the temperature, another guard nearby armed with a sanitiser spray ensures the commuter's hands are sanitised. Bags and luggage too are sanitised. These staff included the Metro employees and Maharashtra state security guards.

Next, at the ticket counters, the unused balance in Metro passes was reinstated across customer care counters.

Metro staff screen passengers at the entrance
Metro staff screen passengers at the entrance

Payments via QR code scanners were allowed and tickets have been changed from plastic tokens to paper ones. The Metro staff informed and explained commuters about paper tickets and other ticketing options to limit contact.

Two paper tickets for a two-way journey were to be scanned at access-controlled gates. The path from the ticket counter to the platform has been divided to allow social distancing.

Boarding and exiting the train has become more civilised
Boarding and exiting the train has become more civilised

While Metro staff were busy cleaning the platforms and the station regularly, authorities have said that every train would be sanitised after every journey.

Onboard the Metro

The Metro platform was ringing with COVID-19 announcements and did not have the hustle-bustle of pre-COVID times. Only when all passengers exited did the people on the platform alight.

A Metro train operator
A Metro train operator

While seat stickers were put up to effect social distancing, guards on-board the train also appealed to commuters to avoid the marked seats. One such commuter seated on a blocked seat was asked to change his place at Ghatkopar station by a Metro guard.

The temperature inside the trains was between 25°C and 27°C, and the atmosphere did not feel stuffy.

Metro stairs boast of stickers instructing people about social distancing
Metro stairs boast of stickers instructing people about social distancing

As against 1,350 people per service in pre-COVID days, every train will now carry only 360 commuters.

The number of services too has been halved from 400 services with a five-minute interval between each to 200 services with an eight-minute interval between each.

Maharashtra state security personnel check passengers' luggage
Maharashtra state security personnel check passengers' luggage

The Metro will operate only between 8.30 am and 8.30 pm.

Also Read: Fast-tracking Metro 3, the only answer to criticism

It was expected that many people would use the Metro services on the first day itself. However, on Monday, the crowd was much less even during peak hours.

Exiting the station With entry and exit points segregated and limited, commuters exiting the station won't be met with the ones entering it.

200
No. of services being run currently

400
No. of daily services in during pre-COVID times

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First Published: 20 October, 2020 07:01 IST

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