During my train travels from New Jersey to New York via Subway, I used to always think of how it would be to have a similar ticketing system for journey in crowded Mumbai local trains. The first thing that came to my mind – it was just not possible given the logistics and tracking involved.
For those who are not aware, in US and UK (specifically for Subway trains and Tubes), the traveler has to just go to nearest vending machine before entering the platform, get a pass of standard denominations and swipe it before entering the train platform. Every time one swipes the card, certain amount is deducted toward your journey. No waiting in lines !
Now, to my surprise, even Mumbai seems to be moving towards similar system. The Central Railways (CR) launched “Go Mumbai” smart card – a first-of-a-kind travel card which works like a pre-paid telephone card, and can be used for travel on the local Mumbai trains and BEST buses.
These smart cards will not only be used in trains and Buses, but will be extended to be used for paying toll charges, parking, and traveling by taxis and autos in near future.
The smartcard, similar to London’s Oyster Card, is pre-loaded with credit (in multiples of Rs 50 upto a maximum Rs 2,000). Commuters have to flash the card on a validator at the start and end of the journey.
The system then deducts the appropriate amount of fare for the specific journey.
As many as 434 validators for the smartcard have already been set up at the entry and exit gates of 23 stations. [source]
To ensure that the cards are not misused, Ticket Checkers will be will be equipped with hand-held devices to check the validity and class of travel. If the card is not flashed at the destination station, the maximum possible fare on the transit service providers’ route will be deducted from the card.
I am sure even after all the precautions to stop the misuse, this system could easily be manipulated.
According to the report, the travelers will have to buy these cards from various delivery points at Bus and Train stations.
I would really love to see automated vending machines being set-up at various points, instead having to wait in the que to buy these smart cards.
Will this initiative of Central Railways be successful?
I highly doubt!