CHENNAI: Dysfunctional handheld electronic ticketing machines (ETM) have forced Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) crew members to revert to the conventional system of flimsy paper tickets. Touted as a revolution in the ticketing system the ETMs have over time become defective, allegedly due to poor maintenance. According to one conductor, authorities in bus depots have asked them to continue with the tiny paper tickets as several ETMs are not working. “We are provided with ticket bundles, making our job strenuous and laborious. Tickets are no longer obtained at the click of a button on board the MTC fleet,” he lamented.
Another conductor on the 12 B route (Foreshore Estate-Vadapalani) underscored the convenience of ETMs. “Nine tickets can be issued to a single destination at one go. And we don’t have to mentally calculate the ticket rates since the machine is programmed to carry out that task,” he said.
ETMs were introduced in the MTC about four years ago. About 2,200 machines were provided to the State owned Transport Corporation, which carries an average of 50.44 lakh passengers every day in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts.
The machines were very handy for the conductors since the daily collection could be monitored with the touch of a button instead of being calculated manually, and for the passengers since ticket distribution was easier.
M Chandran, president of the CITU affiliated State Transport Employees Union, charged that poor maintenance of the electronic machines spoiled the ambitious project. “Necessary amenities for recharging these machines were not provided in several bus depots in the city. In turn, this resulted in frequent repairs to the ETMs,” he said.
When contacted, an official with MTC dismissed the above charges. “The ETMs have reached the end of their life. Tenders are now being floated to procure new upgraded global positioning system (GPS) enabled ETMs,” the official stated.