BMTC passengers need not struggle for small change to buy tickets in city buses. Officials are bringing on board new ticketing machines that allow payments through Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), which will give a big push to multi-modal transport.
The NCMC, which will act as a digital wallet, allows passengers to make payments for different modes of transport and related services such as renting a bike or parking. Though launched in 2019, the system didn’t take off due to lack of necessary infrastructure.
The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which had been looking for suitable electronic ticketing machines (ETM) for the last two years, decided to pick one that supports the latest payment gateways.
BMTC Director (IT) A V Surya Sen said the corporation will adopt 8,000 new ETMs by the end of December which allow digital payments. “Apart from the fact that they print physical tickets, ETMs are similar to the point of sales machines as they allow UPI-based payments and card transactions, including payments from NCMC,” he said.
BMTC has begun training its staff on ETM use. The system is set to go live by December end.
Every day, the BMTC runs 6,200 buses which make 50,000 trips across the city, bringing a revenue of Rs 3.56 crore, almost all of it collected in cash. Since 2018, the corporation has been struggling to shift towards digital transactions, with several attempts made to adopt a mobility card.
One card for metro, bus
Officials have held a meeting with their counterparts in the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) for achieving compatibility and to sort out any issues that may arise at the backend.
Metro officials said the physical infrastructure was ready. “All metro stations on the Namma Metro network have NCMC-enabled automatic fare collection gates,” BMRCL Executive Director (Operation and Maintenance) Shankar A S said.
Another official said the BMRCL will come up with a formal announcement within two weeks. “We may need another week to resolve any payment gateway issues. Once that’s done, we will tie up with a bank to introduce the open-loop NCMC cards,” he said.
The BMTC is renting the ETMs from Pine Labs, a Noida-based company. An in-house software containing stops, stages and designated fares will enable offline sale of tickets. The features on UPI and NCMC payments will be enabled through on-the-air updates.
Officials believe the UPI payments will take off faster than the NCMC. “Considering the popularity of payment apps, the idea of buying a new card will be seen as an investment. But the NCMC is a unique instrument which will enable provision of discounts to those using multiple public transport services,” another official explained.