Green signal given, says Somaiya

Metro: fare is the only hitch, now

Mumbai

The Member of Parliament from Mumbai North-East, Kirit Somaiya, said on Thursday that the Metro could be thrown open to the public any day now, since the last of the pending clearances from the railway board on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar had been obtained.

However, the spokesperson for Mumbai Metro One, which runs the Metro, said that they were expecting the clearance but had not received it as yet.

The commissioner of railway safety had given a clearance to the Metro on April 28 but an approval from the railway board regarding the new coaches was pending. Trains have been conducting trial runs on the 11.4 km metro line from Versova to Ghatkopar for the past two months but there is no indication either from the government or from the MMOPL about its inauguration.

Asked about it on Thursday, MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar passed the buck to MMOPL. “It is MMOPL which should be answering questions about when the services will start or what the fare structure will be,’’ he said.

There is speculation that the Metro inauguration has been held up as the MMOPL and the government do not see eye to eye on the fare structure. Mumbai Metro One (MMOPL) is a joint venture between

Reliance Infrastructure, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and French firm Veolia Transport.

While the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infra, which is the execution agency, owns 69 per cent stake in the project, MMRDA and Veolia hold 26 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

MMOPL wants a fare of Rs 40 from Ghatkopar to Versova whereas the government wants it to be Rs 25. The issue is important as it will set the precedent for the other metro lines in Mumbai. The government had said that the fares would be 1.5 times the bus fare.

Member of Citizen Transport Forum Jitendra Gupta said, “Fares all over country are similar to what the earlier state government had approved in its notification. Non-fare revenue is crucial for the success of mass transit systems in India. With high population, Mumbai metro should expect more footfalls than expected, resulting in much high revenue collections through ticket sales. Also with high passenger turnout, ad revenue also could be expected to be much high compared to that in other cities.”

Iram Siddique

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