After a seemingly endless wait for the Delhi Metro rail to roll into Noida, commuters welcomed the new service by turning up in overwhelming numbers on the first day of the public opening of the Yamuna Bank-Noida section on Friday.

A large number of curious passengers were among those who clamoured on to the metro for a joyride on its maiden run on this section.

The metro staff were kept on their toes throughout the day.

For 67-year-old Kesri Devi, who lives alone in Delhi’s Patel Nagar, the Noida line has come as a boon. “Earlier I had to depend on my daughter to pick me up and take me to her place in Noida. Now I can travel comfortably on my own in the metro!” she said.

H. S. Poonia, who stays in distant Dwarka, used to travel by metro up to Pragati Maidan and take an auto-rickshaw or bus thereafter to reach the Noida Sector18 market for business work. “But now I can travel directly from Dwarka to Noida at half the cost and time in a pollution-free environment,” he said.

Senior citizens

Senior citizens apart, even children were seen taking joyrides on the metro. Travelling with a group of classmates after finishing school, a Class IX student of Army Public School Noida, Pratul Roy, said: “My parents never allowed me to travel to far-off places on my own earlier as my house is in Sector 51. But now I think I can just take off with my friends in the metro and visit places like Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk.”

Excited commuters were also in no mood to let the recent hike in metro fares or the delays on this “jinxed” line to dampen their spirits.

An engineer with NTPC, Shiv Kumar said: “Fares of everything have gone up including that of buses so we just have to accept that. But despite the metro fare hike, I am not complaining as the metro makes for quality travel and saves travel time considerably.”

However, some commuters did complain of the long distance to the nearest metro station.

IT professional Jaya Sapral said: “My office is in Sector 62 and I get an office cab that drops me home, but if I take the metro I will have to shell out Rs.50 daily on an auto-rickshaw from my office to the nearest metro station in Sector 32 which is pointless. However, with the metro I will have an advantage of having the option of travelling safely at night in case of any emergency situation.”

Meanwhile, the staff at the Noida City Centre station had a tough time handling the crowds and the serpentine queues at the token as well as smart card counters especially during the peak hours.

Huge demand

According to a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation official, the station management had to set up several temporary smart card vends at the station to deal with the rush between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

“Though we anticipated a big crowd, we did not know it would swell to a stampede-like situation during peak hours. To handle the unprecedented rush we quickly set up several smart court vending counters with pre-charged cards as one counter at the station control room was just not enough to deal with the huge demand, ” he said, adding, “Overall operations were smooth. There was some delay in the train frequency for some time owing to the passenger rush but it was sorted out very soon.”

Staggering footfalls

The footfalls on Day One of the Delhi Metro’s journey into Noida were staggering.

According to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, 73,797 passengers had travelled on the newly opened Yamuna Bank-Noida corridor by 6 p.m. on Friday and the metro earned Rs.9.68 lakh in revenue.

“We were anticipating that about 53,000 people would be added to the network by 2011 after the opening of this line. But on Friday itself the number was far more than we had anticipated,” said a DMRC official.About three dozen trains were run on the line, while two trains were kept on stand-by. “The trips were conducted without any problems,” the official added.