Common mobility card still a long way off in Bengaluru
While BMRCL says smart cards will be rolled out in October, BMTC avers work still in nascent stage
Commuters who rely on public transport regularly in the city will have to wait a long time before they will be able to use the common mobility card that will allow them to use both Namma Metro trains and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses.
Though the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) has taken initial steps for the introduction of the smart card, the BMTC still has a long way to go before it can be rolled out.
Common mobility cards are open loop and can be used to purchase metro and bus tickets, pay for parking and toll, and for retail shopping. BMRCL managing director Anjum Parwez told The Hindu that testing was in progress. “The metro stations built under phase II of Namma Metro have automatic fare collection (AFC) boxes that allow transactions with the common mobility cards. Fare collection boxes in metro stations that were built under phase I will be upgraded shortly,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the common mobility card would be introduced by October for metro passengers. The trial runs, which the BMRCL had started last year, were affected by the pandemic. The metro rail corporation had also floated a tender to select a financial institution to issue the smart cards.
On the other hand, the BMTC is still in the initial stage of introducing the project. “Prior to introducing the common mobility cards, we have to procure electronic ticketing machines (ETMs) and do various tests to ensure that the software is compatible. After that, we have to select a financial institution to issue the smart cards. Tender process is on for procuring the ETMs, ” said a BMTC official.
The BMTC requires 10,000 ETMs for the rollout. In the past, it had made attempts to introduce smart cards but failed miserably because of various factors, including vendor issues.
Public transport utilities have to introduce the cards as per the specifications of the ‘One Nation, One Card’ policy of the Union government. The card enables the passengers to use various modes of transport, pay parking fee, and make other transactions.
At present, members of the public use either closed-loop smart cards (which can only be used in metro) or tokens to travel in Namma Metro, and tickets or passes (daily or monthly) to travel in city buses.
BMTC to operate 35 buses as feeder service
The BMRCL is set to launch the 7.5-km metro line from Kengeri to Mysuru Road station on Sunday morning. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri will take part in the inaugural event and travel from Nayandahalli to Kengeri on the train. The line will be opened for commercial operations on Monday.
The BMTC has identified three metro stations on the extended purple line of Namma Metro to run feeder services. From Monday, the corporation will operate 35 buses as feeder services from Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Jnanabharathi, and Kengeri stations.
A senior official of the BMTC said that for metro feeder services, the BMTC would operate MIDI-buses. “Unlike other ordinary services, 30-seater (or MIDI) buses are ideal for feeder routes. They will be operated from the three metro stations where there are link roads to residential areas. We will maintain a frequency of 15 to 20 minutes,” the official said. The corporation has identified nine routes to run 35 buses.
The official maintained that the existing scheduled operations would continue to be operated from R.R. Nagar, Bengaluru University gate, and Kengeri Traffic and Transit Management Centre.
Impact on BMTC revenue
The cash-strapped road transport corporation is likely to suffer more losses once the extended metro line becomes operational. There are six metro stations along the line, which will benefit people living in various residential layouts and complexes located on either side of Mysuru Road.
Commuters in the area are likely to shift to metro services as it will only reduce travel time. People living on Mysuru Road will be able to use Namma Metro to reach Baiyappanahalli, and the Central Business District areas such as Majestic and M.G. Road, and also reach various destinations on Tumakuru Road and Kanakapura Road.
When asked about the revenue loss, a BMTC official said, “In the past, metro operations resulted in revenue loss, even though initially we may not see a drop in ridership. We are also hoping that the general public, who otherwise rely on private modes of transport, will use the Kengeri metro line.”