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Metro ‘watchers' can barely control surging crowds

Mohit M. Rao
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Each station has 35 people who handle security, crowd management and ticketing. — FILE PHOTO: Sampath Kumar G.P.
Each station has 35 people who handle security, crowd management and ticketing. — FILE PHOTO: Sampath Kumar G.P.

The sight of a metro train gliding into a station sends the hundreds of people, who congregate there on weekends for a joy ride, into a frenzy — with many jostling to be the first one in.

What goes ignored are the whistles and shouts from crowd management personnel.

“No one listens to us. We can only do so much, but they're all too eager to get in,” said one at the Byappanahalli station.

He waves around his baton, careful that it does not touch anyone, and blows his whistle as loudly as he can, all to no avail.

Many cross the yellow line (demarcating safe distance from the train) at will and click photos of every thing at the station, though photography has been prohibited at stations.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Swami Vivekananda station, a “watcher”, as they call themselves, looks bored.

“Not many come here as everyone travels only between M.G. Road and Byappanahalli to get the feel of the metro,” said Rohini.

Similarly, ennui is apparent on Vijaya's face, a “watcher” at the Trinity Station. “The job is comfortable. We have to just walk around the platforms.

On some days it gets very boring. For hours I may get to see only a handful of commuters,” she said.

Each station has 35 people — all from a private security firm — who handle security, crowd management and ticketing. A majority of those employed at the station agree that metro security was the worst posting among the three.

“You have to sift through every bag and scan the body — sometimes even look into the pockets,” Vijaya said.

“People get very impatient,” she added.

A set of ushers are also posted at the vending machines and gates where cards are tapped.

“People just want to rush through, and will not even wait for the gates to close. And as for the token slot, some people have put in coins, thinking that it is a coin slot,” laughs an usher.

Even though the complete ticketing information has been put up in all stations, the customer care executive constantly has to answer queries.

During weekends, personnel at the ticketing counter — especially in the two terminal stations — are kept busy through the day: distributing tokens, coaxing people to buy the “varshik” (yearly) cards, said an official at the ticket counter.

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