The state road transport of Kolhapur, a province of southwest India, is simplifying student travel with a new smart card system and production facility.
Students had to previously fill out and submit paper forms at a transit depot top acquire their monthly pass. Using the new smart cards, however, this has now become a one-time process, enabling students to recharge the card once they have used up its value.
The new smart card will cost students just 37 Indian Rupees, or $0.61. This fee includes the cost of the card the initial processing fee.
Students whose cards are marked the letter “P” have a permanent card valid for three years, while temporary cards are marked with a ‘T’ making them valid for three or seven days. Once the funds have been expended, the cards can be recharged without the need for paperwork.
According to The Times of India, students and commuters are opting for the smart cards in significant numbers. The cards are available for purchase directly from Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) transit depots.
In addition to the standard and travel fares, the transit corporation also offers its buses for educational tours, which charges students just 50% of the normal fare.
Transit authorities have indicated that the use of debit cards is common even in rural areas of India, which led to the MSRTC’s decision to leverage a new card technology. For debit cards, bus drivers have been equipped with ticket vending machines on which these cards can be swiped, but for the new smart cards, conductors are carrying radio frequency identification readers to read and deduct passenger fare charges.
Under the old system, the transit corporation had to print passes at Rs 30, Rs 60 or Rs 100 ($0.49, $0.98 or $1.64) each, as well as store these passes in in a central location in Mumbai. The entire process of printing the passes, transporting them throughout the state from Mumbai and then storing and distributing them at disparate transit depots proved costly and time consuming and was also affecting productivity.
According to the MSRTC, the new smart cards have alleviated the work load of transit staff, as students no longer have to fill out application forms each time their funds run out.