BENGALURU: Exactly a year ago Bengaluru was promised cashless, fuss-free commute on BMTC buses. But it is yet to be fulfilled.
In June 2016, BMTC along with Axis Bank, unveiled the country’s ‘first contactless travel smart card’, which allows cashless payment for passengers by tapping the card on electronic ticketing machines.
But having missed multiple deadlines over the past one year, it remains to be seen if the proposal will ever take off. There are also murmurs that in a bid to wrest the ‘first of its kind in the country’ tag, BMTC rushed to unveil the card before doing groundwork to initiate cashless facility.
Queries on the status of the project today are met with the BMTC’s staid response of it being in the ‘final testing stage’. In February this year, BMTC officials said they will launch smart card facility in AC Volvo buses on 335-E route (Kempegowda Bus Station to Kadugodi) on a pilot basis. It was also planned to set up counters at Kempegowda Bus Station and Shivaji Nagar Bus Station for sale of smart cards. But nothing has been done so far.
Sunitha S, a regular bus commuter in Koramangala, said, “Smart cards will be a relief for most passengers as many of them often fight with conductors for not returning change. Most conductors insist on exact change and refuse to return the balance amount. BMTC has been promising cashless facility for several months but there is no sign of smart cards till now.”
A senior BMTC official said the smart card project was delayed because of several reasons, including technical glitches, poor data connectivity. “We want to come up with a foolproof system. The pilot project will be launched in a few weeks. It will be extended to other routes in the next few months,” said the official. “We will also launch smart cards for monthly passes, student passes and senior citizen concession cards,” the official added.
BMTC’s grievance cell statistics reveal that the number of complaints registered have almost doubled in the last three years. From 6,350 in 2014-15 to 8,295 in 2015-16, the number of complaints now stands at 13,615. A majority of them are lodged against bus conductors, especially for not returning balance.
EIGHT MISSED DEADLINES AND COUNTING
June, 2016: BMTC and Axis Bank unveiled country’s first contactless travel smart card
1st deadline: September 2016
2nd deadline: November 2016
3rd deadline: December 2016