Token ban in vain as commuters swipe smart cards at AFC gates


Bengaluru: Despite increasing Covid-19 cases, commuters at Namma Metro stations do not follow instructions at the Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gates and standard operating procedures (SOPs) published by the government.

According to SOPs of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, passengers are required to display their smart cards 3 cm above at AFC gates to ensure contactless access. After the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, BMRCL did away with tokens to ensure contactless access.

P. Shivangi, a commuter, informed The Observer: “AFC gates must mandate the rule of displaying the smart card 3 cm above the gate reader. Perhaps this will improve the situation. The system must be built in a way that people can pass through the AFC gates only if they display the cards 3 cm above rather than by scratching them on the AFC gate readers.” 

A BMRCL official said it is the responsibility of the customer care office employees.

Vinay Kumar, general manager, telecommunications and AFC gates, BMRCL, said: “Under the SOP, a fine is charged for not wearing masks. However, for not following the SOP related to the AFC gates, no charge is implied. The employees of the customer care offices at Metro stations are required to keep a check on this.”

The Observer found that each customer care office is manned by a single employee who is busy recharging smart cards.

Further, according to Kumar, the information board is placed at AFC gates of all stations. But The Observer found no such board at the Silk Institute station.

Sushma Ashok, a commuter, said: “Greater awareness should be spread by BMRCL authorities. Taking strict measures and tightening the rules by employing separate staff at AFC gates will help to spread greater awareness.” 

Basavaraja Hemu, another commuter, said the government’s SOP remains on paper. Neither staff nor the public are bothered about it. “Not everyone has access to news or can read the guidelines announced by the government. BMRCL must spread awareness to ensure contactless access.”

R.K. Rangashree, a 67-year-old woman said: “I can read neither Kannada nor English. Every time I pass through an AFC gate, I just look at the blue board.”

The SOP instructs commuters not to place smart cards on AFC gates and instead show them 3 cm above card-reading spots. However, people are habituated to swiping the cards due to the token system.

K.S. Priyadarshini, another commuter, said that despite knowing the SOP, she swipes her card out of habit. “Employees at BMRCL must keep a check on this and ensure people follow the SOP.”

She had a complaint: “Sometimes the gate reader does not scan the card if placed 3 cm above, and hence we swipe it.”

Some commuters believe that it is not the sole responsibility of the government. Instead, people must ensure their safety and take precautions accordingly. 

Karthik R, a Metro commuter, pointing out that people do not wear masks, said: “How can you expect them to follow the AFC gate instructions and SOPs…? Not everyone will stop to read or can read the information displayed. However, those who can shall cooperate with authorities as it is for their safety.”


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