Friday, June 22, 2018

Delhi Metro: DAR vs. LUD



How does one calculate a ride on the Delhi Metro?

A recent article in the Indian Express was hinged on this question, and it came up with a politically charged conclusion from a minister in the Delhi Government who said it was "Extremely worrying" to see a 17% drop ridership in the months of March, April and May, as compared to 2017.

So, what exactly is ridership? 

Ridership here refers to "Daily Average Ridership (DAR)", a metric used by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) across its six corridors — Yellow, Blue, Red, Green, Violet, and Magenta. 

An RTI filed by the newspaper came up with the following data on DAR for three months in 2017 and 2018 for five corridors (Yellow, Blue, Red, Green, and Violet):

  • March 2017 - 2.76 million; March 2018 - 2.2 million 
  • April 2017 - 2.75 million; April 2018 - 2.26 million
  • May 2017 - 2.65 million; May 2018 - 2.25 million
This alleged drop in ridership is important because DMRC had brought in a sharp increase in fares in October 2017, a politically charged decision that was strongly opposed by AAP, the ruling party in Delhi Government, which is also a stakeholder in Delhi Metro. DMRC has been clamoring for a fare review for more than a decade in order to cut dependence on government subsidies, and to be at least operationally viable.

On 29 May, 2018, a day after opening the entire Magenta Line (Botanical Garden to Janakpuri West), DMRC stopped using the DAR metric and started a new one called "Line Utilization Data (LUD)". 

Unlike DAR which was calculated based on the entry and exit made by a passenger at the automatic fare collection (AFC) gates, LUD logs only overall utilization data. Double-counting is avoided and a passenger moving from one corridor to another is counted as a single trip only. For instance, a trip from Noida to Gurgaon across the blue-line and yellow-line would count as one trip, not two.

It is unclear when exactly the LUD metric started getting used. If it started after the fare hike, this could easily explain the alleged drop in ridership in March-April-May 2018. 

Strangely, while the Financial Express says one thing, its sister concern, the IndianExpress reports the opposite. On 30 May 2018, FE reported "Delhi Metro had posted a steady rise in the average ridership, with nearly 27 lakh (2.7m) commuters taking the rapid transit network daily in February this year". Three weeks later, IE tells us that for the very same month - Feb., 2018 - ridership was 22.18 lakhs (2.2m)!

As expected, AAP, the ruling party in Delhi, is highlighting the latter to prove that the fare hike is driving people away from the metro. 

Regular metro users like me find it extremely difficult to believe this. Far from seeing a drop in commuters I see crowded trains even during off-peak hours. In fact, within a month of opening the Magenta line, it has become impossible to find car parking at the nearest OBS Metro station!

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LINKS & REFERENCES

* (30May18), FE - https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/dmrc-uses-new-count-metric-on-traffic-flow-doesnt-share-ridership/1187488/

* (21Jun18) IE - Metro ridership plummets 5 lakh - https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-metros-daily-ridership-plummets-five-lakh-as-compared-to-last-year-5226272/
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