It is two hours past the day's deadline for submission of admission forms, but the Vishwavidyalaya metro rail station is still teeming with youngsters standing in haphazard queues.
Their desire for admission to Delhi University, however, is momentarily replaced by a very simple objective – to get ahead in the long queue and buy a token.
Over the last week Manisha Singh, a resident of Karol Bagh, and her friends have worked out a system. Every day one among the six friends is nominated to stand in the queue while the rest lean against the barricades and catch up on the day's events. “Yesterday we stood here for 40 minutes just to get tokens,” says this DU aspirant who hopes to get accepted into the Bachelor of Commerce course.
The wait to get a token has become a part of the admission process for others like Sanjay Singh and Manish Singh who travelled to North Campus from their hometown Gajraula in Uttar Pradesh. “We spent three hours on the train to get to New Delhi railway station and then took the metro to campus. We are used to waiting in the queue,” says Manish, who hopes to do a B.Sc. in Mathematics.
“Usually, the average ridership is between 17,000 and 18,000 per day,” says a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation spokesperson. However, the Vishwavidyalaya station has seen an average ridership per day of roughly 25,000 during weekdays since the admission process began on June 4, and this past Monday recorded the highest footfall so far with 27,000 commuters. To tackle the crowds, three additional ticket counters have also been opened at the station.
So it is no surprise then that since the admission process began, Delhi Metro's customer service staff have remained on their toes to handle several tasks including retrieval of boxes full of tokens from the exit gates and replacing them with empty ones. Busy with such a task, Rekha Khatri, a customer service agent at the station, is interrupted with a query: “Ma'am, entry kidhar hai (where is the entry)?”
Some months ago, the Metro station decided to rearrange its entry and exit points with one gate leading into the station and one out of it. Rekha says this has helped, especially during the admission season. “The youngsters get worked up sometimes over not knowing where to enter and exit,” she says. “After all, many of them are visiting this station for the first time.”
But there are some smart commuters who have learnt ways to beat the crowds that throng the station. All they do is cross the road to the other side and enter through the gates there. “We have not seen as big a crowd as the other side of the road but the students are learning fast,” says Jitender, another customer service agent. “In the last two days, especially during the morning hours, this side has also been packed.”