On November 24, Delhi’s transport department took a step towards modernisation by launching a pilot project on automatic fare collection system (AFCS).
It has been started on six
low-floor buses that will run on a specified route in the Dwarka sub-city.
Commuters on these buses are being issued pre-paid smart cards. They will have to flash the card while boarding and alighting the buses and the fare will be deducted on the basis of actual kilometres they travelled.
The system may be new to India, but it has been successfully running in several cities across the world.
Oysters Card on London transport system and Octopus Card in Hong Kong are two most successful examples. Sydney, Singapore and Chicago are among several other cities where similar systems are successfully running.
The transport department has a plan to slowly introduce this system on the entire fleet of DTC and private buses (which will start rolling out in 6-8 months) and later integrate this system with the metro network, with para-transit like auto-rickshaws and radio taxis and with proposed monorail and light rail transit system.
At a later stage, the transport department also intends to convert it into a multi-purpose card that can also be used for shopping. The benefits of this card are many.
One and the most evident is that the commuters will not have to buy separate tickets for travelling in different modes of transport.
But the biggest advantage is that this smart card makes commuting cheaper.
“The AFCS work on ‘pay as you go system’. Unlike the ticket system, where the commuter has to buy ticket of that slab of kilometres, the commuter pays for the actual number of kilometres travelled,” said R.K. Verma, Delhi Transport commissioner.
For a nine-kilometre journey, one will have to buy Rs 20 ticket. But on AFCS, the commuter will be charged Rs 16.25 only (at Rs 2.50/km for first four kilometres and Rs 1.25 per kilometre for journey beyond four kilometres).
“The more you travel, the less you pay,” Verma said.
The AFCS will slowly help in having conductor-less buses and the manpower can be utilised for various supervisory jobs later.
“Since the system is new to India, there ought to be some teething problems initially. Once the commuters get accustomed to it, they will be able to appreciate it,” said P.K.Sarkar, faculty, department of transport planning, School of Planning and Architecture.
After a successful trial on Dwarka Circular Sewa, the DTC plans to extend it to buses running on BRT and Mudrika route.
The 600-odd buses on the Commonwealth Games route will also have the AFCS.
Private buses rolling out on the cluster system will also have AFCS.