Kochi Metro Rail Ltd to charge entry fee for cards

Patronage may take a hit.

Kochi: The Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) plans to charge an entry fee of Rs 150 for the issuance of the smart card in association with the Axis Bank. The decision of KMRL, which incurs a loss of Rs 18 lakh per day for operating the metro services between MG Road and Aluva, is likely to further limit the passenger patronage as the smart cards in most metro services are provided without any issuance fee.

The Axis Bank, the vendor for the smart card for Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), provides the same without any issuance fee. Compared to it, the KMRL-Axis smart card is an expensive affair, says Mr Ebenezer Chullikkat, associated with the Greater Cochin Development Watch, an advocacy group, and an RTI activist. The smart card for Kochi Metro proposes an issuance fee of Rs 150, annual fee of Rs 75 and reload charges of Rs 12 per transaction. The replacement fee is also fixed at Rs 150. The BMTC card, however, has no joining or issuance fee and the annual fee and the card replacement fee are fixed at Rs 25 each.

According to Mr Ebenezer, the KMRL will find it difficult to attract passengers with such charges. He also questioned the propriety of KMRL selling the digital payment system for bus, auto and water transport systems to the Axis Bank. The Uniform Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) Bill is pending before the state Assembly. Unless it is passed by the Assembly, KMRL will have no authority to take a decision on such matters, he added. The payment system for water transport or bus and auto services is commercial transaction and a vendor for such systems should be selected through a process of public bidding, he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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