• Kolkata: Metro tokens back from today, sanitised for safety
    Times of India | 25 November 2021
  • Kolkata: Manual washing of smart tokens will be discontinued as Metro Railway brings back old ticketing system from Thursday. Instead, the plastic discs are going to be sanitized in the smartest and safest way for reuse. Metro Railway will be adding 75,000 new tokens from Thursday to its existing stock of 1.3 lakh tokens.

    Before the lockdown on March 24, 2020, the handheld tokens used be washed with water, disinfectants and detergents after use. So, the “smart” tokens, which have chips installed inside, were damaged. Besides, the cumbersome exercise wasn't foolproof in killing the virus.

    This time, Metro Railway has bought 40 hi-tech ultraviolet sterilizers. The dry method is fast and most effective in killing the germs. It also does not affect the tokens, officials said.

    The carrier on Monday announced the reintroduction of tokens after 21 months. Even as Metro had resumed services twice during the pandemic — first from September last year after a six-month hiatus and again after a two-month suspension because of the second wave — only smartcard holders were allowed to board the trains.

    In March, this year, Metro Railway had decided to bring back the tokens, but the second wave forced the authorities to defer the plan. The contactless smartcard continued to be the sole ticketing system. But a section of commuters kept on asking for the single journey tokens that could be procured for Rs 5 for the shortest 2km distance. Reluctant to lock their money in smartcards, which cost Rs 120, with Rs 80 kept as security deposit, many commuters returned smartcards at the end of the day. That is why, Metro Railway will be issuing tokens from Thursday for both North-South and East-West corridors.

    The utility has sanitizer machines that can sterilize more than 300 tokens in four minutes, so they are returned to the cash counters for immediate re-use. Big stations have two such devices while smaller ones have one each. “The UV machines have undergone successful trials. We feel much more confident to reintroduce tokens that have been in demand now,” said Metro DGM Protyush Ghosh.

    Around 6.2 lakh people availed of the North-South Metro beforethe pandemic. Of them, 50% were smartcard holders. Currently, Metro clocks less than 3.5 lakh daily footfall. Now that the tokers are being brought back, the number of commuters is likely to go up and Metro may add more trips. The carrier is now 16 short of its pre pandemic 288 services.

    The authorities will go on stressing on the multiple journey smartcard as the most user-friendly means of ticketing. “It is safe and easily rechargeable. One does not need to stand in queues to buy a smartcard,” said Ghosh.
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