Kochi: An acute shortage of Electronic Ticketing Machines (ETMs) is affecting day-to-day functioning of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) even as the management is all set to procure 7000 ETMs to tide over the crisis.
What has led to the situation is expiry of Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) with 'Quantum Power Systems', the company supplying the ETMs. However, instead of renewing AMC agreement, the corporation is set to purchase another 7000 ETMs, with a single piece expected to cost nearly Rs 10, 000.
"The repair of faulty ETMs is not being done for past eight months, even for minor faults. An acute shortage of machines is being faced in all main depots. The conductors are protesting after they were forced to work with old ticket racks which started affecting revenue collection," said a KSRTC official.
For instance in Ernakulam depot, nearly half of the total 80 ETMs are non-functional. "It's difficult to give tickets in old racks as the highest denomination ticket is Rs 29. We've to give multiple tickets for all those passengers purchasing above Rs 15 as the cess too will have to be added. This consumes much of our time during peak trips when heavy rush is experienced," said a conductor on condition of anonymity.
Currently there are nearly 5500 ETMs across the 98 depots in the state. The corporation is operating nearly 6300 schedules daily.
When contacted, a senior KSRTC official said the corporation is all set to purchase 1000 ETMs on an urgent basis to tide over the crisis."We've ordered the company to provide 1000 ETMs by the end of this month. There is also a plan to purchase another 6,000 ETMs, however, the same need to be approved by the board," he said.
The ETMs have features including GPRS system, radio-frequency identification reader and blue-tooth, the same as existing ones.