Smart cards may be made mandatory to travel in metro trains soon after the services resume after lockdown as the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is discussing on Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure contactless travel and maintain social distance in the mass rapid transport network.
As per the draft SOP, the government wants to do away with a single journey token ticket system and make it mandatory for the passenger to carry magnetic strip smart cards to travel in metro trains.
For buying a token, passengers have to wait in a queue either at token vending machines or token issuing counters. If smart cards are made mandatory, passengers can top-up the currency at recharge point or an automated machine at metro stations or using digital transactions whenever they want once in a week or month said an official.
Apart from this, the smart card holding passengers can just show their smart card at Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gate to ensure contactless access to the metro. However, in the token system, passengers have to put it in the AFC machines, thereby ending up touching AFC gate, said an official in the Ministry.
Moreover, most of the metro companies are already giving concessions to passengers to travel using smart cards than token. In a way, the smart card is more beneficial to passengers, said the official.
Other aspects of the SOP includes a compulsory thermal screening of passengers and staff at the metro station, maintaining social distance while entering stations, prevent passengers loitering inside stations, making compulsory downloading Arogya Sethu App in their mobile, compulsory wearing masks, increasing frequency of trains during peak hour, said the officials.
The top officials of the Ministry already held a discussion on steps to be taken to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 once the metro services resume after the lockdown.
The metro rail services suspended across the country from March 25 to May 3.