BMTC Buses in Bangalore: 1,000 BMTC buses go cashless as Covid-19 accelerates switch | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: After missing the bus in 2016, when demonetisation prompted mass adoption of e-payments, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is finally embracing the digital option as it looks to make commute safer and quicker in the wake of Covid-19.
On Tuesday, 1,000 out of the 3,500 BMTC buses on the road allowed passengers to pay the fare through a QR-code facility. This is a huge jump from just 70 buses that offered the e-payment option last week, when the state government restarted public-transport services after nearly two months of lockdown.
Cashless and contactless ticketing is now a crucial public-health measure as coronavirus can survive on surfaces for a number of hours. It also solves an old problem: passengers and conductors won’t argue or fight over change as exact fare will be deducted from e-wallets. In the past few years, there have been a number of ugly scraps over change, and despite repeated complaints, state-run BMTC didn’t introduce the online payment option until now.
In another welcome development, flat fares were reintroduced on BMTC buses on Tuesday. The minimum fare is Rs 5 for a trip of up to 2km. The bus operator also rounded off fares in multiples of Rs 5, which had been a long-pending demand, to minimise cash handling and return of small change. Flat ticket prices replaced a much-criticised pass-only system that made bus travel expensive for thousands of daily-wage workers and other commuters from economically weaker sections.
TOI spoke to several commuters at Majestic on Tuesday, and most of them gave a thumbs up to the cashless option and flat fares.
Aboard buses, conductors were seen carrying a laminated card with a QR code. Passengers scanned it with their mobile phones to pay for the ticket.
Passengers can use UPI-based payments apps such as Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm, among others. Each bus will have different QR code. Once the payment is made, the conductor will issue the ticket.
“This (cashless mode) should have been done long ago. We had also demanded that BMTC round off fares. Both measures have been finally implemented because of Covid-19,” said Rajesh Kumar, who regularly travels on BMTC buses. “More people will use BMTC’s services and pay through QR code once AC buses are back.”
Conductors also welcomed the cashless system. “Right now, a limited number of passengers are using it to pay the fare, but slowly, more people will switch from cash. This will end the problem of change,” a conductor said. “Some people give us a Rs 200 note for a Rs 22 fare and expect us to return exact change. This leads to arguments and fights. The QR-code method will help us avoid this. It’s also a good way to avoid cash transactions during a pandemic.”
BMTC managing director C Shikha, who visited bus terminuses to interact with passengers on Tuesday, said the feedback on cashless ticketing and flat-fare model was encouraging. “We hope the number of cashless transactions goes up after the resumption of AC services,” she said.
BMTC has mapped buses and created a virtual payment address (VPA) for each depot to track cash transactions. “We are also monitoring QR-code transactions in real time through a dashboard,” Shikha said.

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Sagar Biswas

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