The Kolkata Metro Railway is the lifeline of the city. Thousands use it to travel to work, to schools, to the movies, every day. During the Durga Puja season, the Kolkata Metro remains open almost 24 hours a day.
The lines at the ticket counters are the stuff of legends. During peak hours, it isn’t uncommon to see the line stretch all the way to the station entrance itself.
The Kolkata Metro has decided to go digital, and is talking to banks and wishes to create an e-wallet that will allow daily passengers to recharge smart cards online. This new initiative will put those with smartphones, at an advantage. They will no longer need to stand in queue for tokens.
The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), has won the contract to create the software that will run the e-system. The project, which will approximately cost Rs 2 crore, has already commenced, and the Kolkata Metro and the CRIS will soon enter into a Memorandum of Understanding, according to Metro Railway CPRO Indrani Banerjee.
For a while, the Kolkata Metro authorities have been thinking of implementing smarter ticketing systems. Read about how they started putting things into motion here.
Here’s how the e-ticketing system works:
People will have to download an app on their smartphones and select the origin and destination stations. Payment will be done using an e-wallet. Once the ticket is purchased, a QR code will be generated. Passengers will need to scan the sensor on the smart gates, using the QR Code.
This e-ticketing system has been in the pipeline for a while, as the Kolkata Metro wants to reduce the queue-lengths at booking counters. Many railway ministers aim at reducing queues at counters, and the Indian Railways also has an umbrella goal—no passenger should spend more than 5 minutes at a booking counter.
The Kolkata Metro has also been actively discouraging token use, by daily commuters, convincing them to use smart cards instead. Tokens are a logistics nightmare—collecting them from bins, and keeping them stocked at stations is a pain. Additionally, around 500–600 get lost each day, setting the Metro back by Rs 18.98 for each token.
The CRPO is optimistic about the move and says that the mobile ticketing system will reduce passenger inconvenience. Smart card users will also benefit. CRIS will come up with the system in 4 months, and the smart gates will be made QR code compatible.
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The digitalisation of the Metro ticketing services might help bring down the waiting time at queues. It puts smartphone users at a distinct advantage, saving them valuable time, and it will help the Metro save money that they would normally spend on tokens.