THE DELHI Metro has proposed a “biometric identification” system for students and senior citizens, which will enable discounted fares in the future. Rebates or discounts have not been recommended for the Delhi Metro so far to prevent “misuse”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief Mangu Singh said Friday that they were considering biometric identification technology to prepare the system for concessional rates. According to Singh, the proposal was devised after Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri pitched for rebates to students and the elderly following Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s demand that fare hikes in May and October last year be rolled back.
The DMRC chief said successive Fare Fixation Committees (FFC), including the most recent one in October 2017, considered the proposal of rebates but did not recommend it to prevent “misuse” as the existing system had no mechanism to differentiate between normal commuters and those in certain categories.
“If a (smart) card is there, how will an AFC (automatic fare collection) gate know whether the commuter is a student or a senior citizen. When the minister was informed of this, he asked if there was a technological solution to this. And if the next FFC recommends such concessions, then technology should be able to take care of that,” Singh said.
“Yes, there is technology available now. We really do not know what exactly can be done but it is possible. Maybe biometric identification probably can work. We can have some nominated gates at every station where a person with the concessional card will pass through that gate only, and the gate will prove first his identity and only then allow.”
Singh, who took over as DMRC Managing Director in 2012, claimed metro systems in many developed countries had such a mechanism in place and stressed that its success depended on the “integrity” of people. “For example the Japanese society. You will not expect them to cheat,” he said.
He emphasised that the corporation would “certainly” find out a solution before the next FFC recommended a concession to certain categories. “We can only make ourselves ready to tackle the recommendation technologically. Biometric is one, face recognition is another one,” he said.
He also said that the biometric system may lead to delays as matching may take time. “It (biometric identification) is possible but you see there are certain difficulties in that. It (system) becomes slow. Today the entire fare collection system is not completely online. It is stored. If made online, it will become slow. Maybe there will be some advancement in technology. Even today this biometric attendance system takes time. It is mainly because it has to match your data and matching may take time. Unless a person is identified gate will not open,” he said.
Asked when biometrics of passengers willing to avail concession would be taken, Singh said, “We will have a system where once they want a concessional card, at the time of issuance, that (biometrics) will be taken. It (concessional card) will be given once only,” he said.
Puri had first proposed that rebates be given to students and senior citizens after the fare hike triggered a political storm in the national capital with the AAP government mounting strong opposition. Last year, DMRC increased fares twice – in May and October. The current fare structure is Rs 10 for up to 2 km, Rs 20 for 2 to 5 km, Rs 30 for 5 to 12 km, Rs 40 for 12 to 21 km, Rs 50 for 21 to 32 km and Rs 60 for journeys beyond 32 km.