If things go as planned, Bengalureans can soon travel cashless on metro trains and buses across the city. The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation will soon introduce an interoperable smart card that would work for both modes of public transport.
Currently, the smart card ensures users do not have to wait in the queues while using the metro. The new cards will work both at the metro automatic fare collection gates and also the handheld ticketing machines used by BMTC conductors.
Studying the usage patterns of both BMTC and BMRCL, it has been decided that the pilot project will be carried out in Bayappanahalli and Kempegowda (Majestic) metro stations. Speaking to TNM, BMRCL Managing Director Ajay Seth said that the pilot project will start in October first week.
“The commuters who will be travelling from Kempegowda station to Whitefield can travel in the metro and then take the BMTC bus at Bayappanahalli using the same card. These smart cards can be used at the exit and entry gates of these stations. Based on our data, we have found many people are already using this interchange for their daily commute,” Ajay Seth explained.
BMRCL is currently working on making the pilot project operational in four months. “But implementing the full system will take time,” said Seth, adding, “We are taking more time as we will be using ticket collection gates, which Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) along with Centre For Development Of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has developed indigenously.”
“We have requested BEL and C-DAC to develop a prototype for us. If the ticket collection gates are made in India, then the costs will go down significantly. Currently, all ticket collection gates across the country are imported,” he added.
Both BEL and C-DAC are central government institutions which are also working on the first Indian automatic ticket collection gates.
BMRCL is owned by the state and Centre equally, while BMTC is owned by the state government. BMTC, BMRCL, BEL and C-DAC convened a meeting at the national capital on April 23 to discuss the matter.
If the pilot phase runs smoothly, then the same gates will be used for all the stations in Phase-II of the Namma Metro. At the same time, BMRCL will phase out the existing smart cards steadily.
Sanjeev Dhyamanavar, a public transport expert at Prajaa (an organisation of citizens working towards urban civic issues in the city), said this will increase the ease of use of public transport and increase ridership over time.
“The common smart card will help commuters save time and travel hassle-free without worrying about change or queues during rush hours. Using the smart card also helps in keeping an account of the expenses. It also works well with children as many parents are worried about their children using cash. With the facility of cashless travel, more people will start using the bus and metro if they are using either mode of transport,” he said.
The Delhi government in December 2018 had launched similar common mobility card that works in the metro, Delhi Transport Corporation buses and cluster buses in the capital.
In March 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), which was initially proposed by the Union Urban Development Ministry in Ahmedabad. The NCMC is a debit, credit or prepaid card that can be used as a cashless means of payment across all segments, including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail.
A press release from the Press Information Bureau also added that the stored value on the smart card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to the stakeholders concerned. So far, payments platform RuPay and Visa have decided to support the initiative.