New Delhi: The Commonwealth Games are round the corner and Delhi Metro officials face a daunting task -- grooming commuters to behave courteously. Over 5,000 passengers have already been fined for various offences like spitting and defacing Metro property.
"The Delhi Metro wants to maintain world class civic standards in its trains and stations, but Delhiites have earned a distinction of being discourteous, especially when they use public transport," said Mohinder Yadav, the DMRC public relation officer.
"The unruly behaviour by the commuters is turning out to be a headache for the authorities."
At least 5,256 passengers have been fined for committing offences in the premises of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and a fine of Rs 10.5 lakh has been collected in the last two years. The maximum number of offences pertain to spitting, creating nuisance and defacing Metro property.
"The figures are bothering us, as 10 out of 11 venues for the upcoming Commonwealth Games are near Metro stations," said Yadav.
"The Games Village, where most of the athletes will reside, is adjacent to the Akshardham Metro station. Hence, we expect a large number of international visitors to use the Metro system," he said.
In March this year, a maddening crowd pushed a 22-year-old woman, Meherbin, from the platform to the tracks where a speeding Metro train crushed her legs. The first time traveller lost her legs. In the same incident, 30-year-old Raju lost one of his legs.
"We have received a number of complaints of passenger misbehaviour during the past year. The situation forced us to paste stickers reserving four seats each for women, senior citizens and needy in each coach," Yadav said.
But it doesn`t seem to have helped.
Priyanka Gupta, a regular commuter, said most of the time seats reserved for women are occupied by men. "Travelling on the Delhi Metro is not comfortable, particularly during peak hours," she said.
Gupta also said that during her first trip on a crowded Metro train from Indraprastha to Dwarka, she was harassed by a middle-aged man.
According to Delhi Metro statistics, so far 346 commuters have been penalised for creating unnecessary nuisance and 23 have been fined for quarrelling.
As many as 84 people have been booked for obstructing the duty of officials. Also, 211 people were fined for travelling beyond the authorised distance and 341 were penalised for sitting on the train floor.
Sharing her experiences said, Ritu Aggarwal, a regular Metro commuter, said: "Delhiites have no civic sense. Recently, when a train reached Preet Vihar station, a middle aged man tried to spit paan on the platform. In doing so, he spat on my dress as I was getting into the train!"
According to DMRC, 1,797 have been booked for spitting inside the premises of the station, 818 people have been penalised for defacing Metro property and over 432 booked for drunkenness.
Delhi Metro officials say four special flying squads have been formed to create surprise checks almost every day on different routes to catch erring commuters.
"We have launched these initiatives for the convenience of travellers, but they can be successful only with people`s cooperation," Yadav said.
The Metro makes over 1,900 trips on its five operational lines and covers a distance of 111 km. By October, ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, it will reach nearly all areas of the national capital, as well as suburbs like Gurgaon, covering nearly 190 km.
About one million commuters use the Metro on week days. During the Games, about two million commuters are expected to use the Metro on week days.