The Mumbai Metro resumed services on the 19 th of October, after a seven-month hiatus. The news came as a relief to those having to travel from Andheri West to Andheri East. Versova Metro Station is the beginning of the line, which ends at Ghatkopar station. I expected the station to be full of commuters but I was appalled by what I saw.
The station stood completely deserted, apart from the Metro staff and the security personnel. Only one gate of the station was open, the rest were locked. This seemed counter-productive since it could lead to a crowd on the staircase. This could have increased the chances of the virus spreading.
The situation was a dystopian one, with shops closed, no commuters and a bunch of armed men waiting for commuters to come through the gates, waiting to frisk them. Photography was not allowed in the station, and I was forced to delete my pictures from my phone. The guard even looked for a ‘Recycle Bin’ in my phone to make sure the pictures were completely erased.
Vikram, the field supervisor at Versova station says, “The ticket prices are the same. In 2017, the ticket prices were to be hiked but the High Court did not allow it.’ Tickets can only be bought via mobile. Tokens are no longer given to avoid contracting COVID-19. Apart from this, the supervisor refused to give me any more information.
The security personnel performed their usual tasks of frisking and checking baggage. A temperature check is conducted at the entrance by Metro staff. Commuters can even sanitise their hands before making their way through the security check.
According to Mumbai Metro’s Twitter page, peak hours are between 9 am and 10:30 am and in the evening from 5:30 pm and 7 pm. These hours coincide with office opening hours across Mumbai. The first train leaves from Versova at 8:30 am and the final train leaves from Ghatkopar at 10:30 pm.
Twelve thousand commuters used the Metro on the first day, and numbers fell to ten thousand on the second day.