Hop, skip, jump across Mumbai with one smart card


By Ashley D’Mello & Somit Sen  www.indiatimes.com

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is pushing for seamless travel becoming a reality in the city. This will enable commuters to change from train to bus to metrorail using a single smart card.

Consultants for the project, KPMG, said they have had initial meetings with the institutions concerned. MMRDA additional commissioner S Srinivas said, “We will include water transport, when it starts, and even taxis in our seamless travel scheme,” he said.

Transport consultant Arun Mokashi feels seamless travel is a must for Mumbai. “It will take time as the institutions concerned will have to discuss modalities. But it will happen as Mumbai has to become a modern metropolis,” he said.

Getting all institutions involved to agree is easy. Srinivas says, “Rail, bus and Metro operators will agree because this will increase their commuters. Some issues have to be sorted out but the project is progressing. The consultants will finish the studies in the next few months.”

BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said, “With a single card, you can travel multiple times on any mode of transport. It is a convenient, hassle-free system and we are looking forward to it.” The railways too has its smart card system which helps commuters avoid queues at stations.

“In future, we can program the card to store data pertaining to monthly/quarterly passes (at present, one has to produce a paper pass) and cards may be integrated with other modes of transport like Metro and Mono rail,” an official said.

For seamless travel, merely introducing a single smart card will not make it efficient. There are other factors such as availability of trains/buses at connecting points and distance travelled on foot by commuters.

For this, the state plans to introduce share autos and taxis outside every suburban rail station, Metro and Monorail stations. The BEST will also have feeder routes outside each of the Metro/Monorail stations. KPMG executives said finding a good firm to build the integrated smart card system is important.