Dec 22, 2016

Central Railway commuters irked at extra charge for card payments



Cashless travel: A ticketing officer using a PoS machine to issue travel tickets at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station on Monday. | Photo Credit: Smaran Shinde

Point of sale machines installed at ticket counters charge Rs. 30 extra per transaction
The Central Railway (CR) has installed card swiping machines at ticket windows to tackle the cash hassles post-demonetisation, but each transaction costs Rs. 30 extra. The surcharge has irked commuters who feel that they are bearing the burden either way.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) station has started accepting card payments for monthly and quarterly passes as well as regular journey tickets through the point of sale (PoS) machines. 51 such machines have been installed at various stations, however, they are operated only for long-distance travel reservations. The CR plans to add another 22 machines in the next few months.

At CST station, hassled commuters were relieved at the installation of card swiping machines but the extra charge upset them. “Introducing cashless payment is a good idea but why to take extra transaction charges?” questioned Archana Hagawane (26), a commuter who travels daily between CST to Vikhroli, and works with Neelkamal Furnitures.

Another commuter, a 21-year-old Tata Institute of Social Sciences student, Sanket Pawar, was also disappointed at the extra charge. “Why would anyone use card for payment if the CR is charging extra for the transaction? I would rather stand in a queue and pay in cash. We suffering due to lack of cash, and now when we want to go cashless we are made to suffer by charging extra,” Mr. Pawar said.

A 24-year-old Tata Consultancy Services employee, Arundhati Kamble, said she was glad when she heard about the installation of the PoS machines. However, she too criticised the extra charge. “Others taxed two to four per cent of the transaction amount, while the CR [charged] a whopping Rs. 30, no matter what the amount is. Thanks to the cashless economy, I got my 10 rupees’ worth ticket in 40 rupees,” Ms. Kamble added.

Railway activists feel that people will never warm-up to cashless transactions if they are overcharged. Subhash Gupta, Chairman of Rail Yatri Parishad, said, “Instead of giving a bonus to people who are paying by card, the CR is extracting more money from them. Our Railway Minister needs to give it [the cashless payment system] a serious thought.”

Another rail activist, Siddhesh Desai, founder of Kalwa Railway Pravasi Saghatana, said that the CR should introduce a mobile wallet system which will ease the process of digital or cashless payment. “The cashless payment system is not just the government’s need but the people’s need as well. If you can pay online to a vegetable vendor, then why not to the railway?” he said.

A senior Central Railway official told The Hindu that the machines being used on ticket counters were originally used in passenger reservation system where transaction fees was applicable. “The CR does not get this extra amount. It goes to the bank. We have already sent a proposal to the Rail Board to waive off the extra charges and we are waiting for an official reply,” he said.

The writer is an intern with The Hindu
Source - The Hindu