Every day, Metro turns away 50-100 drunk passengers

It is also turning away those carrying liquor in their bags.

Security staff keep an eye on passengers on all floors. Right: Notice on a pillar at a station. dh photo by S K Dinesh

Every evening, Namma Metro security personnel at the MG Road station turn away 50-100 passengers who try to board the trains drunk.

It is only between 6 and 10 pm that the guards come across drunk passengers. “We rarely find anyone drunk during the day,” says a security guard.

Metro trains across India bar passengers from carrying liquor, and Bengaluru is also barring ‘alcohol drinkers’ from entering the stations. The problem is conspicuous at the MG Road station, since streets in its vicinity are lined with pubs and bars. In the weekends, many passengers used to board the Metro drunk, and some would throw up. Stricter rules are in place since the beginning of this year, and staff look out for passengers who look tipsy.

“We have no breathalysers, but we keep an eye out for passengers who may be drunk,” says a security guard at the Metro station at MG Road.

Senior officials at the station say ‘body language’ tells them whether a passenger is intoxicated.

In Delhi, the Metro has a line connecting the airport to the city. When passengers try to take duty-free liquor on board the train, Metro staff advise them to travel by some other means.

In Chennai, the rule against carrying liquor was implemented towards the end of 2017. The Metro there slaps a fine of up to Rs 500 on anyone found intoxicated.

In Bengaluru, Metro staff say they politely ask passengers to leave the Metro.

Namma Metro has put up print-outs at the stations to tell riders about the rule. A more formal blue-coloured board lists out objects prohibited on trains. It is a long list, and includes everything from knives, pets, chemicals, blood, human bodies and ashes, carcasses, and alcohol.

Carrying sealed liquor was allowed earlier, but is now banned. Other forms of transport, such as buses and trains, have no restrictions on carrying sealed liquor. Drinking on board, however, is banned in all public modes of transport.

Inter-state transport of liquor is governed by other rules, and restrictions mostly apply on quantity.

Women’s concerns
B L Yeshwanth Chavan, chief public relations officer, Namma Metro, says the ban on liquor is in the interest of public safety.

“Everything classified under spirits and inflammable liquids is banned as it can easily start a fire if not handled with care,” he says. “Also, women passengers feel threatened when drunk people board the trains.”

On many occasions, women have complained to Metro officials, Chavan says. Unlike long-haul trains, Metro trains don’t have coaches for luggage, and that is the reason liquor bottles can’t be treated as cargo, he says.

Loo and behold
Some passengers were getting into the toilets and taking swigs from their bottles before boarding the trains. That nuisance has now come down, officials say.

Public vs private transport
Police conduct campaigns against drinking and driving, and urge drinkers to use public transport. Namma Metro’s restrictions go against this recommendation, tipplers say. In Delhi, the Central Industrial Security Force, which provides security for the Metro, asked the authorities to change the rules against drunk passengers, saying the trains should accommodate drinkers who can walk properly, and drinkers accompanied by sober people.

Why the ban?
- Many drunk passengers threw up in the coaches.

- Women uncomfortable with drunk riders getting in.

- Spirits can start a fire on board.

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