BENGALURU: Even as Namma Metro readies itself to install Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) at all its 41 stations of Phase-I before the North-South Corridor gets commissioned, the machines already installed have been sealed since demonetisation came into effect.
Two new machines at Kempegowda station, installed well before the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped, have not issued a single Metro token.
With an average of at least 80,000 commuters purchasing Metro tokens (one-trip journey ticket) each day and long queues outside ticketing counters at starting points like Mysore Road and Baiyappanahalli Metro stations, it is vital that Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) ensures an alternative system in place.
If its projected ridership figure of 5 lakh materialises after Phase-I is commissioned, the scene outside Metro counters could become worse than the unreserved counters at railway stations.
On Saturday, Express checked five TVMs in place along the East-West Corridor (Baiyappanahalli to Mysore Road). At M G Road, Indiranagar and Baiyappanahalli Metro stations, the machines had an ‘Out of Service’ notice displayed. Kempegowda Metro station has two machines that were installed in August 2016, but the machines have not issued a single token. An ‘Out of Service’ message is seen scrolling on the machines in three languages.
“We need to calibrate the machines to accept the new notes. The software needs to be upgraded and that will take some time,” said a top Metro official. It has been four months since the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped and one wonders how much longer it will take for the machines to be set right. Metro website lists TVMs among the amenities provided for public.
Metro officials too have been evasive when asked about the machines. When the new machines at Kempegowda station did not work from the time of inception, Metro officials said, “It is a hardware issue and will be set right soon.”
Another top official said, “All our focus is now on commissioning Phase-I before our April deadline. We can sort out these minor issues later.”
Each of these machines is said to have cost Rs 15 lakh. However, this figure could not be verified through Metro officials.
The purpose of reaching one’s destination in double-quick time through Metro trains is defeated if one needs to stand in long queues. “The problem is acute only on Friday evenings and Saturdays,” said another Metro official.
“We would have taken an auto if we knew we had to stand for over 20 minutes to get a ticket,” said V Shyamala, a homemaker who was spotted at the tail end of a queue at Baiyappanahalli Metro station on Saturday. Her husband nodded in agreement.
S Kanakaraj, an employee in a private firm, said, “It is tough to hear the rumbling of a Metro train down below in the morning hours when you are standing for long time in a line. You feel disappointed that you are missing one train after another as you wait in a queue.”