Commuters may soon have to switch from their smart cards to common mobility cards linked to the banks as Chennai metro rail is planning to phase out its prepaid smart cards.
Instead, commuters will be encouraged to purchase the national common mobility card (NCMC), which can be used in metro rail services in other cities as well as in MTC buses in the future.
Commuters can continue to buy QR-code tickets on WhatsApp, Paytm, CMRL app by scanning a QR-code at the station. All these ticketing options let commuters avoid standing in queues to purchase or recharge tickets or smartcards.
“In due course, the closed-loop cards or smartcards will be changed to NCMC,” M A Siddique, managing director, CMRL recently said. NCMC cards were launched in April 2023.
CMRL has already phased-out sale of chip-based tokens which were widely issued when the first few stretches of phase-1 were launched between 2015 and 2018.
While prepaid smartcards, which is also called a closed-loop card that can be used only in metro stations and their parking lots in the city, NCMC is an open-loop card which is linked to bank accounts and can be used for metro train rides in many cities and for shopping. Officials said many commuters refused to purchase smartcards as they do not use metro services daily and their money gets locked in the cards as cash is pre-loaded. With NCMC, commuters can use it like a debit card.
A metro rail official said so far around 30,000 NCMC cards compared to eight lakh smartcards have been sold. Out of this, two lakh cards are tapped regularly at the stations. At present, metro stations record a daily average footfall of 2.5 lakh.
“Promoting NCMC cards among commuters will save us the cost of procuring the smartcards, as NCMC is issued by SBI. We expect more passengers to migrate to NCMC,” a metrorail official said.