Public transport beckons cashless, touch-less ticketing

Bengaluru: Post lockdown, public transport beckons cashless, touch-less ticketing

The need for social distancing might make passengers wary of public transport, say experts. DH PHOTO/Ranju P

Switching to cashless and touch-less ticketing, public transport could undergo a dramatic change once the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted. The need for social distancing might make passengers wary of public transport, say mobility experts, but a contact-less ticketing system could address this.

To make this a reality in Bengaluru city, the experts have demanded that the much-awaited common mobility card by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Authority (BMTC) be launched before the lockdown ends.

For latest updates and live news on coronavirus, click here

Smart machines that read the one mobility card could be installed in all the public transport vehicles, BMTC buses included. “It is critical that different public transport modes talk to each other to ensure the mobility card works seamlessly,” notes Ashish Verma, associate professor, Transportation Systems Engg, Indian Institute of Science.

Since coronavirus is highly contagious, wary metro commuters had been advised not to touch the cards at the entry gates. The sensor could read the data even if the card is hovered over it without contact. The same system could work on buses equipped with such systems.

Verma suggests that a PNR system could also be introduced on the lines of the railways. This would require online payment for the ticket or a monthly pass that generates an SMS or a WhatsApp code that could be shown to the bus conductor.

Chalo cards

The safety-first approach has already activated plans to introduce such systems wider. For instance, public transport management firm, Chalo has proposed to introduce cashless, touch-less ticketing to eliminate physical interactions in different cities nationwide. Customers could pay through its Chalo cards or through mobile apps.

The Chalo card is a NFC touch-to-pay card that can store a wallet and multi-trip tickets such as a monthly pass. Mobile passes/tickets would be available through the Chalo app. Users could buy their passes on the app and show their QR code to travel.

Chalo has already introduced its free app that offers live bus tracking in 17 cities countrywide, including Mangaluru, Kolkata, Bhopal, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kochi, Patna and Vijayawada. Before the lockdown, the mobile bus pass was introduced in Bhopal, Guwahati, Indore and Jabalpur.

Once commuters download and get used to the live bus tracking with accurate information in big numbers, the cashless ticketing model incorporated in the app will get more users.

This could be a model for BMTC too, which had recently introduced an app of its own with bus schedules.