Keep the change: MTC to introduce smartcards
Trial On OMR From March, Regular Users To Benefit
As a first step towards a future without bus conductors, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) will introduce smartcards by March next year. Adyar and OMR will be its trial routes.
The corporation has placed an order for 6,000 electronic ticketing machines (ETMs) that can be used to swipe smartcards as well as dispense tickets. The smartcards can be topped up by a conductor or at a bus depot. “We will also authorise third-party agencies to recharge the cards, like prepaid phone cards,” said a senior official at the secretariat.
Once the entire system is in place, commuters will be able to use their smartcards across all modes of transport — buses, trains and metro rail — without worrying about getting change or buying separate tickets. Authorities will know, in real time, the demands of passengers in different sectors in the city.
The plan is to have passengers tap their cards as they enter the bus, which would not have a conductor. “We will run this as an experiment on OMR as it has the highest number of Volvo buses and passengers on this route are more open to change,” said the official. About 100 ETMs are on trial now.
Those buying monthly passes will be the first to get smartcards. MTC’s system will be compatible with that of the upcoming metro rail. “We are finalising the specifications, and will float the tenders for smartcards soon,” said the MTC official. MTC has about 10,000 conductors on its rolls, and once the system in place they will be used to conduct surprise checks and inspections.
Initially, MTC’s smartcards will be offline and ticketing information will be stored locally on the ETM. “Till CMRL sets up its system, our smartcards will just be validated by ETMs,” said a source.
Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has been pushing for an elaborate common ticketing system. It will offer smartcards for regular users and tokens for one-time users. “We are working on a system that will accommodate all the players,” said an official. CMRL will be able to monitor their patronage in real time with this system.
Last month, CMRL held a workshop on fare collection. Officials from the state transport authority, MTC, Southern Railway, Centre for Railway Information Systems, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, IRCTC, call taxi operators and representatives of bus ticket booking websites attended it.
Metro rail had proposed a common smart card for electronic fare collection as per international standards. “The challenge is to split the revenue with the department concerned. We are waiting for a response from others,” said the CMRL official.
In Kochi, Private Bus Operators’ Association last month introduced a smartcard system on a pilot basis in 40 buses on the Ernakulam-Kakkanad route. In Bhubaneswar, city bus operator Dream Team Sahara introduced smartcards for commuters on October 10 to deal with the problem of coin scarcity. Several western countries use smartcards that work across different forms of city transport.
FOR SMOOTH OPERATION: NO MORE TICKETS TO RIDE
- Electronic ticketing machines | 6,000
- Smartcards to be issued soon
- To be used first on OMR
- Those buying daily, monthly passes to benefit
- Smartcards will be recharged at depots, by agents
- Ticketing information such as time, distance, number of tickets sold will be stored
- Once metro rail is operational, same card can be used across bus, auto, call taxi, train and even for parking
- System will go online and authorities can get real-time information on usage
- Independent body will be set up to collect revenue and split it with different departments
Source: Times of india | Karthikeyan Hemalatha | TNN