Commuters in the city will not be able to travel on different modes of transport using a single ticket at least until early next year with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Railways yet to zero in on a payment mode. The MMRDA hopes to reach a consensus with the Railways by this month.
“We have been in discussion with the Railways over the payment mode for the single ticket. The discussions have led to some delay. We should be able to finalise it by mid of August. But we will be able to roll out the Integrated Ticketing System (ITS) only by early next year,” said a senior MMRDA official.
The MMRDA had proposed to implement the ITS by the year-end, but the MMRDA and the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corp (MRVC), representing Railways, differ on the mode of payment.
“We are planning on an ‘Account Based’ method of payment while the suburban Railways want a ‘Store Value’ payment method. They are afraid that they will lose money on that. So, we are still trying to sort out the differences,” said R A Rajeev, MMRDA Metropolitan Commissioner.
The basic difference between the two modes of payment is where the money is stored. While in Store Value passes, it is in the card, in Account Based ones, the money is in the bank accounts of the commuter. Store Value cards are currently used on the Metro One corridor. The Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gates check the balance on the card and deduct the money, which directly go the Railways.
With Account Based cards, the gates only check if the card is valid and does not check its balance. After the day’s transactions are completed, the money reaches the Railways the next day. “Account Based is like credit card while Store Value is like debit card,” said the MMRDA official.
However, MRVC has consulted Transport for London (TFL) and raised apprehensions about the method. “With Store Value, the commuter has already paid the money and the fare will be deducted from it. There is no risk of defaulting payments. We want them to have both the methods while they want to only have Account Based. TFL is also of the opinion that we must start with Store Value and then move to the other method. Once we start with Account Based, we cannot go back to Store Value. Finally, the Railways has to take a call on this,” said a MRVC official.
Safeguards have been thought of to ensure there is no loss of money. “In the Account Based method, even if the card does not have money, the fare will be deducted from the deposit. A minimum deposit of Rs 100 will be charged for the card. Suppose the ride is more than the deposit money and the person does not have sufficient money in his account, he will enter a denial list. This list will be circulated every 15 minutes and will go to all the machines. Next time, when he tries to enter a station, he will be refused. The Railways’ fears are addressable and we are working on a solution,” said the MMRDA official.
The MMRDA favours the Account Based method as it is a globally accepted mode of payment. “All other transport bodies are interested in the Account Based method and the future is account based,” said Rajeev.
The MMRDA hopes to complete the tendering process for finalising the financial institutions by September. However, commuters will have to wait longer to enjoy seamless commute on a single ticket.