Following the demonetisation announcement on November 8, the Delhi Metro recorded no changes in its ridership, but its cash inflow fell drastically. Daily smart card recharges that had touched Rs 15 crore a day earlier fell to Rs 3 crore per day, prompting it to think of ways to get commuters to park more cash with the body.
“Earlier this year, the average per day smart card recharges used to be Rs 5.5 crore and on certain days had gone up to Rs 11-15 crore. Commuters did not mind parking cash with us by recharging smart cards in advance. After demonetisation, this was badly hit,” Sharat Sharma, director (operations), DMRC, said.
The Delhi Metro had been mulling a shift to cashless transactions following incidents of burglary at its stations. “So far, only 10 per cent of ticketing transactions were made via electronic means… The bulk of the transactions were in cash, which is difficult to handle as there is a threat of burglaries. Such incidents have been reported at stations this year. Also, we had to pay banks to pick up and move the cash, so we were looking for ways to move to cashless transactions,” Sharma said.
A tender floated nine months ago to move to e-wallets became relevant after demonetisation. Paytm, which won the bid, was signed up for cashless transactions at 10 Metro stations from New Year.
Amid uproar over the decision, DMRC insists it has weighed the consequences. “These 10 stations dominantly have commuters who use smart cards. Payments can be made through debit and credit card, apart from Paytm. Some stations in this list have over 82 per cent smart card users. Ridership on these stations is not very high… So the number of commuters queuing up at the lone cash counter is not going to be very high.. We are hopeful e-wallet transactions will considerably hike our income through smart cards,” Sharma said.