Nearly three months since its inauguration, the 17-km stretch — Sahibabad to Duhai Depot in Uttar Pradesh — of the country’s first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) has made commuting much simpler, said students from nearby areas.
Sarjit Singh, a 21-year-old final year B.Com student who boarded the train from the Duhai Depot station, said that commuting 13 km from his village of Bhikanpur to Ghaziabad earlier would take him close to 40 minutes and cost ₹70 a day.
However, since the RRTS became operational, he has been saving half an hour in commute and ₹10 daily. “I usually cycle from my village or get a lift from someone to the Duhai Depot station and reach Ghaziabad in less than ten minutes by spending ₹30 one way. Since I travel at least four times a week, it saves me a lot of time and energy,” said Mr. Singh.
The rapid transit system sees a daily footfall of around 3,000 commuters, most of whom are students, according to a senior official of the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is building the RRTS.
The Sahibabad to Duhai Depot stretch, which has five stations — Duhai Depot, Duhai, Guldhar, Ghaziabad, and Sahibabad, is part of the larger 82-km Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor, which is scheduled to be functional by June 2025 and is expected to cut the travel time between Delhi and Meerut to less than an hour.
Mr. Singh reached the Ghaziabad station with five of his friends from Bhikanpur, all of whom were headed to a tuition centre, where they prepare for banking services examinations.
The station at Ghaziabad, which is a hub of coaching centres, sees a significant number of students from west U.P. villages in and around Duhai, Guldhar, and Sahibabad. While the students appreciate the RRTS for being a time-saving public transport, not everyone finds it easy on the pocket.
Suhani Kumari, a resident of Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar, finds spending ₹50 to travel from Duhai to Sahibabad daily costly.
“I frequently come from Duhai to Sahibabad since my university’s examination centre is here. So, spending ₹50 to travel just five stations feels heavy on the pocket as I also have to spend on autorickshaw to reach my destination,” the 25-year-old said.
Earlier, Ms. Kumari shared a taxi with her classmates to cover the same distance at a total fare of ₹50. However, she now takes the RRTS to save time even as it costs her 30% more.
Still a novelty
The recently inaugurated mass transit system still has a certain novelty value for some. Nitish Aggarwal, a visitor from Mumbai, who was on his way to visit his parents in Guldhar, said he ended his cab ride at the Sahibabad station to be able to experience the RRTS.
The public transport system has also brought hope of a better future for many living around the Sahibabad to Duhai Depot stretch.
Kanhaiya Lal, who runs a small tobacco and snacks kiosk near the Shaheed Sthal metro station in Ghaziabad, feels his business will grow significantly once the full 82-km stretch becomes operational.
“Once the Delhi-Meerut stretch starts functioning, there will be more commuters, which means there will be greater demand for snacks, cigarettes, and last-mile connectivity, which will help put food on the plates of people like me and e-rickshaw owners in the area,” said Mr. Lal.