Just like flights and long-distance trains where one can board only if there are seats available, Kolkata Metro passengers may have to book e-passes, hours before they want to take a ride. The passenger would be allowed to board only if there is enough space after maintaining social distance. Else he has to opt for another train at a different time.
With the West Bengal government apprehending that it could be difficult to tackle the crowd during rush hours, the authorities have proposed to issue e-passes to passengers to maintain social distance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The state government has proposed developing a system to issue e-passes for entering the metro station. They have sought certain information from the Metro in this regard,” a Kolkata Metro spokesperson said.
A senior official of the state government said that the idea is that, a passenger would have to apply for an e-pass through an app, hours before he wants to take a ride. If there is enough space in the train, after maintaining social distance among passengers, an e-pass would be generated. Security personnel would check the e-pass before letting him inside the station. Only smart card holders would be allowed.
“For that, a passenger would have to mention his preferred journey time, name of the stations and his smart card number during booking on the app. Only a specific number of passengers will be allowed on the train. If there is no space, the passenger would be asked to give another time preference,” said the official.
Kolkata Metro, the first metro in India, is the lifeline of the city and according to metro authorities around 6 lakh-6.5 lakh people take the metro on a week day. Out of this, around half of the commuters use smart cards. Each train would be allowed to carry at the most 400– 500 passengers to maintain social distance.
“It was earlier decided that passengers with only smart cards would be allowed and tokens would be discontinued. But even with smart cards we may face problem as lakhs of passengers use smart cards. Hence the idea of an e-pass was floated,” said a state government official.
The state home secretary had written to the railway board chairman on August 28 that the West Bengal government has no issues if local trains and metro services were resumed.
Even though it has been proposed to operate the metro from mid-September, officials said that chief minister Mamata Banerjee has requested to resume services from September 13 as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test is scheduled on that day.
Metro authorities said that two more rounds of discussion would be held with the state government before things are finalised and the plan is rolled out for commuters.