As an alternative to cash payment of bus fares, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) is exploring the introduction of smart cards. The plan is to bring the smart cards into reality by next year, said the vice-chairman and managing director of the state transport body, Ranjit Singh Deol.
He said, “The idea is to provide commuters these cards, which they can use to buy tickets. These cards can be recharged from time to time.”
On the working of smart card, their ways and place of recharging an official of the transport body said, “The conductors of the buses will be given machines to swipe these cards. There will be several points, mainly MSRTC bus stands and stops, from where people can buy these cards.”
The MSRTC transport service operates across and outside the state of Maharashtra. Around 70 lakh people travel in the MRSTC buses daily. Of the 16,000 MSRTC buses, 3000 operate from Pune.
Another official of the transport body said, “People need to be well informed how these cards work, the places from where they can get them and ways of recharging them. With many commuters coming from rural areas, we will first make them aware of their use. Moreover, conventional method of payment by cash for the tickets will also continue.”
City's bus transport body, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) has also been looking to bring the MI cards to encourage cashless payments. They have talking about an integrated payment system after Pune Metro initiates.
A PMPML official said, “We have distributed these cards to our employees, the staff of PMC and police, among others. However, when it comes to general commuters, it will take time.”
Another official said, “Out of an average 100 people who use bus passes for travel, 10% use MI cards. However, not many people are buying them at present. But these cards will be made mandatory soon.”
According to transport activist and businessman, Sanjay Shitole, both MSRTC and PMPML will face a tough challenge bringing the smart cards into being used widely.
He said, “The MI card project of PMPML has been in discussion for more than a year but very few people have these cards. The challenge before the transport bodies is to make commuters, especially those from rural background, understand the system and make use of it.”
Information Source: TOI