The BMRCL recently announced a cut on the discount that smart card users can get on their metro rides. The Namma Metro authorities had introduced the discount of 15% in 2011 to encourage users to move to smart cards, and encourage users to routinely use the metro. This discount has now been cut by 10 percentage points to just 5%, which represents a steep 66% reduction.
However, the BMRCL employees union leader, Suryanarayana Murthy alleges massive fraud within the company. “The BMRCL has reduced the smart card incentive to 5% to cover up gross mismanagement losses, to the tune of around Rs 400 crore.”
He adds that he went to the authorities to take action in order to reduce losses. “I brought it to the management’s attention to reduce unnecessary expenditure, illegal appointments, and illegal promotions. It causes about Rs 40 crore loss every year. Instead of solving the problems, they are creating problems for passengers. I condemn the initiative taken by the management (of discount cut). I urge them to restore the earlier incentive, and to take immediate action to prevent the above scams,” he adds.
BMRCL Executive Director A Shankar however, denies that there is mismanagement. “Our costs have gone up, and the 6 car trains are empty during the day. Only during peak hours of two hours, the metro is crowded,” he says.
More than half of the Metro users are smart card holders, according to data from the Namma Metro website. They will all be affected by the discount cut. The ridership of the metro has only been increasing, and daily metro ridership has reached over 4 lakh commuters every day. The current record stands at 4,58,238 commuters in a day, which happened on October 30 last year.
"In the background of intense economic crisis, the prime responsibility of the government is to provide relief to the public. Not to hike the price of public sectors like Metro, which we depend on. Recently, the Metro made record of highest passengers, so they must be making huge profits. Why can't they provide more discounts?" says Vinay, a student.
Meanwhile, some twitter users are encouraging people to look at alternative means of public transport, in protest. ‘Bengaluru Trainusers’ put out a tweet that urged people to use the suburban railway connection between Byppanahalli and Majestic instead of the metro, as a protest against the cut in discount.
On the other hand, some users believe that the Karnataka government should incentives frequent users of public transport by giving them a monthly fixed pass amount, like the BMTC. Apoorva CM, a frequent Metro user says, “The Metro came as a dream to commuters who were constantly stuck in traffic jams. However, just when the public started depending on it, they are penalising those who use public transport. We should be getting incentives instead! Give us a yearly or monthly metro pass like how we have with buses.”