BENGALURU: The rise in patronage of Namma Metro has, regrettably, been accompanied by a steep spike in revolting and antisocial behaviour on the city’s showpiece transit system. Records show that Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), which now has a daily ridership of 3.7 lakh, had since 2013 fined 1,373 passengers a total of Rs 3.3 lakh for offences as varied as spitting on coaches and in stations, creating a nuisance and drunkenness, unlawful entry and obstructing officials on duty. The number of cases spiraled from 10 in 2013 to 464 in 2017 and 469 in the first five months of May 2019. TimesView Namma Metro promises to enhance connectivity in Bengaluru exponentially in quality and scale within the next five years. It is already both the flagship of the city’s burgeoning transportation network and a lifeline for lakhs of commuters. It is a disgrace that some customers damage the system and inconvenience other patrons with inconsiderate conduct. It may be cynical to believe that neither awareness campaigns nor rational counsel will make any difference to their behaviour, but for now it appears that only harsh fines will have a deterrent effect. In a country where expectorating in every direction comes as naturally to certain people as discharging saliva does to peeved llamas, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that spitting tops the list of violations: 1,133 cases in seven years have attracted fines of Rs 2.2 lakh. The fact that 365 people were fined Rs 61,950 for the offence in 2018 clearly had little preemptive effect — 391 commuters were booked for the violation till May 2019. Officials report that several commuters spit paan and gutka on the tiled floors and walls of Metro stations. Creating a nuisance/ drunkenness was the second-biggest problem, with 115 cases in seven years, followed by unlawful entry (84), obstructing officials on duty (30), carrying away tokens (eight) and traveling in Metro coaches reserved for women (three). Worryingly, especially for women passengers, the number of Metro users booked for causing a nuisance especially while drunk increased from a mere three each in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to eight in 2016 before vaulting to a record 50 in 2017. There have been 43 cases so far this year. Delhi Metro provides its security staff with alcometers, which has proved a deterrent to drunken behaviour, but BMRCL is yet to consider taking such a step. Then, of course, are those patrons who delight in obstructing officials from discharging their duty. Their numbers increased from three in 2016 to 17 in 2017, dipped to one in 2018, before rising to seven till May this year. Unlawful entry into Metro stations and rakes also rose from four in 2016 to 48 in 2017; there were eight cases in 2018 and 24 in 2019. This year, for the first time, BMRCL booked men for travelling in women’s coaches. The three men were fined a total of Rs 600. The Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, stipulates that, depending on the nature of the violation, offenders may be fined between Rs 50 and Rs 5,000 and/or face imprisonment. “We are looking to take punitive action against offenders under the act so as not to inconvenience other passengers,” a BMRCL official said.
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June 24, 2019
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