CHENNAI: With political leaders of the State jumping onto the Metro Rail bandwagon, the project has became the centre of political activities. While the DMK has promised a reduction in fares if it is voted to power, parties including the DMDK and Left have demanded reduction of ticket prices.
As DMK treasurer MK Stalin took a ride on a Metro train on Wednesday, his father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi announced that he would hold a public meeting on the issue on July 7, underlining the importance attached to the project by his party.
Clearly indicating that the meeting would be a propaganda exercise to claim credit for the Metro Rail scheme, DMK South Chennai district secretary M Subramanian said a meeting would be organised at Alandur on July 7 to thank his party leader M Karunanidhi for initiating the scheme.
Stalin, who travelled from Koyambedu to Alandur, told reporters that if the DMK was voted to power, besides fare reduction, the party would go for the project’s expansion. He was happy that Metro Rail, a dream project of the DMK, had been implemented. He said the project would reduce traffic congestion, improve quality of air and decrease accidents and loss of lives. Stalin claimed that his co-passengers complained to him that the fare was very high, and urged the State government to reduce it. He also sought parking facilities at all the railway stations. The people of Chennai should remember the good projects the DMK government had implemented for the city, he said.
DMDK leader Vijayakant, who also took a ride along with his party MLAs, asked the State government to reduce the fare and provide more facilities. He also welcomed the helmet rule. When asked about future tie-ups, he retorted: “I do not know anything about it. Only the media is saying many things”.
CPM State secretary G Ramakrishnan said the Metro Rail fare in Chennai was higher than that in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur and Bengaluru. With the onset of liberalisation, the government too was looking at every project with a commercial motive, he alleged and sought decrease in the fare.
Meanwhile, BJP State general secretary Vanathi Srinivasan took a group of people including flowersellers, tailors, domestic maids and others on a Metro ride on Wednesday. Chennai Metro, she said, should give permission for people to carry luggage containing flowers and vegetables in the train. She also said that the Tamil Nadu BJP would push for a reduction in the fare.
As per figures received from Chennai Metro, the second day collection through sale of tickets was Rs 10.90 lakh. This is considerably less than the collections during the first day when the sale of tickets and smart cards came to Rs 16.77 lakh.
During the whole day, a total of 40,500 passengers travelled in Chennai Metro. On the first day when Chennai Metro operated from noon to 10 pm, a total of 40,000 passengers used the service. However, on the second day, the trains were operated from 6 am to 10 pm, but the increase was only 500 passengers (40,500).
A Metro rail spokesman said that Chennai Metro was likely to see more crowd during week days.