CHENNAI: The idea of a universal travel card for all modes of transport is unlikely to be realised soon due to delays by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation and Indian Railways.
A Chennai Metro Rail official told City Express that the agency has technically developed a universal card, which can accommodate payment from 30 agencies. However, the proposed plan has failed to take off, with both MTC and Railways failing to create adequate infrastructure. The contentious issue is over the fare — while bus and train charge less, Chennai Metro charges more, said the official. As a result, the talks have not moved further. Besides, both agencies have to work out on how the card would be made operational. There has also been no effort to create infrastructure for either the common ticketing platform or multi-modal integration.
The major issue for the failure to implement the multi-modal integration is the implementation of Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) — while the city was the first to have such an authority through an Act in 2010, it was never notified. “This one of the reasons for the delay in integrating all mass passenger transport by means of measures like routing and scheduling buses, feeder services and common ticketing to facilitate seamless commuting options to the public,” said metro rail sources.
However, the CUMTA working groups are still holding meetings on the issue. Discussion has even revolved around Kochi Metro Rail model, under which the investment for the automated fare collection system will be undertaken by the bank that will pay royalty.
The transport department could be looking at such a proposal, but Chennai Metro Rail sources question the feasibility. “The infrastructure which needs to be set up in the buses may not make sense because our buses are overcrowded,” the source opined.
Elaborating, he said, “First the transport department has to set up infrastructure so that the buses run as per their capacity, then they can think of floating a tender to select banks for automated fare collection.” However, Metro Rail hasn’t given up on the dream of a universal transport card. It will still be looking for solutions over the next five years, says the official.
■ The smart cards issued by Chennai Metro can be used to get tickets on suburban trains as well as buses
■ These cards have been made by Delhi Metro. They can be programmed as common mobility cards
■ These contact-less smart cards have the facility to be used in 32 other services
■ Talks are still on with state transport department, Centre for Railway Information Systems, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, call taxi operators and representatives of bus ticket booking websites to use this universal travel card
■ Transport department is looking at the Kochi Metro Rail model, which has tied up with Axis Bank, to invest in an automated fare collection system