Metro trains to have contactless ticketing to curb Covid-19 spread

The government is likely to do away with single token tickets and plans to allow the use of only contactless individual smart cards for travelling on metros when these services resume after the national lockdown enforced to check the spread of Covid-19, officials aware of the matter said.

The magnetic-strip smart cards can be recharged and allow automatic fare collection at access gates. In the case of tokens, commuters have to purchase them for single journeys at ticket counters which often see long queues.

The proposal to discontinue tokens is part of a draft standard operating procedure (SOP) that the Union housing and urban affairs ministry is working on for the resumption of the metro rail services. It is part of the measures the Centre plans to introduce for metro travelling with social distancing to minimise the risk of Covid-19 spread. The measures will also involve managing space between passengers, their screening and crowd control at stations.

“We are planning to allow the use of metro cards only and make ticketing as contactless as possible to avoid queues at counters,” said one of the officials familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Metro trains have been suspended along with passenger trains and flights since March 25 when the first phase of the lockdown came into effect. The lockdown has since been extended until May 3.

The official said a review meeting was held on Tuesday to plan how the metro services would be run once the restrictions are lifted. “We will need to manage crowds first and foremost… and manage the frequency of the trains depending on the crowds.”

Also read: CISF to go for contactless frisking of passengers at airports, Delhi metro

The official said unlike the railways, metros do not get reserved passengers and hence cannot anticipate the exact rush. “We used to get peak rush at this time of the year due to the reopening of schools and colleges…hence, we are not expecting that… it will also depend on the guidelines that are issued for the resumption of offices.”

The official said they will have to plan the resumption of metro services accordingly. “We also have to figure out ways for social distancing. We are monitoring what other countries, which have resumed services are doing and should be able to factor all that in. Our guidelines will be ready this week.”

It is unclear yet whether the Centre plans to resume public transport from May 3 even as ministries of railways and aviation are working on plans for the resumption of their services.

Train travel will include social distancing norms, early arrival at stations, mandatory use of masks and thermal screening of passengers. These measures have been implemented for special trains being operated for the deployment of military personnel.

The director-general of civil aviation is also preparing a protocol for the movement of passengers at airports and which will involve strict social distancing norms including leaving middle seats on planes empty.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is responsible for guarding airports across the country, has drafted a plan that seeks the reporting time for passengers at airports — two hours before departure of their flights. The early reporting has been proposed to ensure passengers have enough time to undergo random screening, and for check-in, immigration etc while maintaining social distancing.

The CISF has also prepared a SOP for contactless frisking, use of Aarogya Setu app to identify Covid-19 patients entering security gates, and a reduction in the number of passengers.

The Aarogya Setu app is a mobile app developed by the ministry of electronics and IT to help identify a person’s risk of contracting COVID 19.

“These norms are needed ensure safety of the commuters and will go a long way in allying fears among people. This will also mean that the carrying capacity of the respective modes of transportation will be reduced to a large extent. Therefore to carry same number of commuters, more trips or vehicles would be required,” said Kushal Singh partner, Deloitte India.

Source : Hindustan Times

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