The much-touted ‘City on Wheels’ project, which enables passengers pay bus fare through smart cards, has turned topsy-turvy as the Private Bus Operators Association (PBOA) too has come up with a similar smart card scheme.
Passengers will have to use both the cards while travelling in private buses as the PBOA smart card cannot be used in private buses under other organisations.
The PBOA move comes at a time when the District Administration has decided to extend the ‘ City on Wheels’ project to every private bus in the district.District Collector P I Sheik Pareeth convened an urgent meeting on Saturday regarding the issue, but it failed as the PBOA did not take part in the meeting.The Collector is scheduled to hold a meeting with office-bearers of private bus operators’ associations on Monday.Suresh Oommen, secretary, Kerala Bus Transport Association (KBTA), alleged that the PBOA move to introduce new card is meant to topple the ‘City on Wheels’ project which was an instant hit. “Surprisingly the same organisation had earlier rejected the project,” he said.
State-based company Chillar Payment Solutions has come out with the prepaid card system for PBOA buses.The District Collector said the smart card introduced by Technovia Info Solutions is the only officially-recognised card by the district administration.
M B Sathyan, state president, PBOA, said the issue can be settled if both the companies reach at a consensus.
However, Nishant Ravindran, chief executive officer of Technovia Info Solutions, said: “If we follow such a system, it would be like toppling the security of an effective scheme which I believe both the companies would not prefer. This new issue arose as a result of ego clash between bus operators’ organisations.”
“They put forth this project with the backing of other private bus associations in the district such as the Private Bus Operators’ Organisation, Private Bus Operators’ Forum and Kerala Bus Transport Association (KBTA). Measures have been initiated to issue 1,000 coupons free of cost which will be served on first-come, first-serve basis. The BPCL will sponsor the first 1,000 coupons,” he said.