BENGALURU: Petty arguments, arising out of cash shortage, are breaking out between conductors and passengers in The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses.
Ravi Kumar, a conductor from Shanti Nagar bus station, says that people show up with Rs 2,000 notes early in the morning. “And they’ll want a ten-rupee ticket. How can I give a balance of Rs 1,990,” he asks, exasperated. “When I ask for change, they start a row. This happens on each and every trip.” Durga Prasad another conductor agrees that it is a common scenario. “People think we have plenty of change and they can get it from us,” says Prasad. “But we get it from passengers. I wish they would think of that before breaking into an argument.”
Conductors and passengers say that there can be no better time to launch the transport corporation’s smart card. When the scheme was announced in June, BMTC had said that it would be out by November. It is November and senior officials say that the card will take a few more months. BMTC’s MD, Ekroop Caur, says it will be out by January. Officials we spoke too said the card cannot be introduced only to help the public tide over a currency shortage. But its not just the public, the cash crunch has hit BMTC hard. Caur says that they have seen a “40% drop” in its revenue since demonetization. “We have introduced a special pass that costs `500 to help commuters,” she says. “They can get this pass with old currencies till November 24.”
A senior official at BMTC’s IT department says the private bank involved has been causing the delay. “We cannot issue the card by this month end because there has been delay from Axis’ Bank’s end. The bank has been testing this application,” says the official. “We are expecting them to finish their work by this end of this month, then we will do a trial run for two months. Only after that will it be available to all.” Official says that the date of issue of smart cards can only be decided after the trial run. Axis Bank could not be reached for comment.
Bus commuters are upset about the delay. “We have been reading reports of the smart cards and have been waiting for their issue,” says Shivaram S, a regular passenger from Shanti Nagar. “I see no progress so far. But it will definitely be a big help, if it comes through soon because we are all short of currency.”