One of the saddest days of my life was when I came to know that the Delhi Metro was going to be built!! In fact, I think all of Kolkata went into mourning that day... suddenly, overnight, the crown of being the only city with a metro service was going to be snatched away from us :D But, on my recent visit to Delhi, I was forunate enough to use the metro... and I must say I was very impressed!! The service was something like it would be in foreign country... smooth and efficient.
I used the metro to travel from DU to Delhi Station (at peak rush hour). By road this journey would take about an hour (thanks to the traffic !) if not more. But using the metro... it took just about 20 mins :)
But, it was not just the time factor which impressed me... it was the whole experience that the DMRC (Delhi Metro rail Corporation Ltd) provides its customers, which starts even before you land in Delhi! Not being very familiar with delhi or how to get around, I was confused about which metro I would have to catch, how frequently do they run etc. Normally, the internet is my saviour, I swear by it :) But I was apprehensive as to whether the DMRC would be 'online' :)
I was pleasantly surprised by the results :) Almost every information that a traveller would need, is available online -- the routes, the fares, the frequency, the distance, the time taken, the stoppages.. everything. For the calculation of fare, u just enter the two stations, and u get the fare... unlike Kolkata Metro website, where they tell u the fare according to kilometres and leave it up to u to figure out what is the distance between the two stations :D
On entering a metro station, u feel like u have entered a airport :) Huge, spacious, extremely well kept, well decorated, with signboards to help people figure out where to go. This again is in contrast to the dirty and dingy metro stations of Kolkata where people consider it their birthright to spit at every which place.
Once in the metro, there are announcements regarding the next station, but the best thing I liked is their announcements regarding which side the platform would come... thus saving the people the trouble of rushing at the minute. And, maybe the DMRC has conducted market research, but the metro doesnt stop at all stations for equal amount of time. At places like DU and Chandi Chowk, where their is a heavy rush of people... it stops longer... while at other places it has a shorter stoppage. Amazing strategies !!
There are some other interesting facts about the Delhi Metro -- like the first section took merely three years to complete, while the kokata metro took eleven years!! Also, Delhi Metro was the first metro in the world to be ISO 14001 certified for its environmentally friendly construction. How can a metro be environmentally friendly you may ask. Well, most of the Delhi metro stations conduct Rainwater harvesting and have established catchment areas fo this purpose!!
Oh and yes.. do I need to mention... Delhi Metro is one of a few metro systems in the world that are operationaly profitable. In the financial year '08, it had revenue of $100 million and profit before tax of $3.98 million... haha.. so I guess both DMRC as well as the citizens of Delhi, have a reason to smile :)