The Delhi Metro plans to replace ticket counters with vending machines by the end of 2017. This will follow the first fare revision in over six years when ticket prices will be rounded off to fives or 10s, doing away with the need to dispense coins in change.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation currently has over 200 ticket-vending machines (TVMs) at its stations but commuters tend to avoid them due to their inability to dispense coins, which is necessitated by the fare structure.
The fare revision, expected in the next three months, proposes to double ticket prices to a minimum of R15 and a maximum of R70 from the current R8 and R30, respectively. Slabs of R10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 have been proposed though fares could be in multiples of five too.
The Delhi Metro last hiked fares in 2009. The revision and subsequent move to TVMs will also coincide with the completion of Phase 3 of the Metro’s network expansion.
“In 2015-16, we are adding 45 TVMs, which will take the total number to 216. By next year, we plan to add 300 more. We want less human interference when it comes to exchange of money,” said a DMRC official.
The customer care centre at each station will continue to exist, and will sell tokens in the event of a machine glitch.
The shift to machines comes amid complaints of ticket counter operators cheating passengers of their change. The staff, mostly hired from outside contractors, will be slowly removed, sources said.
Instead, “DMRC staff will assist passengers in getting tokens from the machine and passengers will be sensitised about its use. In a city like Delhi, everything should be automated,” the official said, adding that the machines can be used to recharge smart cards too.
The Metro ferries roughly 2.6 million commuters daily, 70% of whom use smart cards while the remaining 30% purchase tokens — which are needed to enter or exit a station.
Sources said the TVMs, each costing R15 lakh, will also help free up space at stations. “(Ticket counter] not only require staff but also eat up a lot of space. We will identify crowded stations and, depending on requirement, machines will be placed. At no point of time will the convenience of passengers be compromised,” the official said.
New stations coming up in Phase 3 have been built with less space assigned for ticketing.