Metro Railway, Kolkata, plans to resume commercial services from September 14, while underground transportation will be specially made available to applicants taking the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) on September 13.
However, a ride on the Kolkata metro in the midst of a pandemic, when unprecedented rules are the new normal, will require passengers to have an e-pass as well as a smart card.
For the first time on the Kolkata metro, the e-pass or boarding pass will need to be obtained with the estimated time of the trip, source and destination metro stations four to six hours before the trip, which will be probably available on the metro website. or the existing “Pathadisha” app launched by the state transportation department or a mobile app, sources said.
The metro will then issue the digital pass valid for one hour in the preferred time slot of commuters.
Commuters will only be allowed inside the metro station upon presentation of the e-pass with QR code in front of city police personnel who will be deployed at the gate.
The state Department of Transportation is responsible for developing the app and it should be ready in two to three days.
However, the e-pass will be issued to the commuter according to the number of people expected in that time slot at the station, at the platform and inside the rakes.
Commuters will also be able to purchase new smart cards by first obtaining an e-pass. A similar electronic pass system is currently in use on local trains in Mumbai.
“The agency responsible for the application has requested data from us which will be provided shortly,” said Indrani Banerjee, CPRO of Kolkata Metro. “They will develop it and then show it to us in two or three days,” she added.
Metro Railway’s general manager, sources said, will visit all metro stations in the city from September 8-10 to learn about preparations for resuming commercial services.
According to sources, there are around four Kolkata metro smart card lakh holders. However, in the current situation, the city’s metro will not be able to handle huge crowds of smart card holders.
Instead, to ensure social distancing is maintained inside coaches, out of the total capacity of 384 seats in a rake, only 128 commuters will be accommodated. Disinfection tunnels, thermal sweeping, masks will be other measures that will be implemented.
For now, the metropolitan authorities have decided to start services only on the existing north-south route.
Service along the six east-west metro stations will continue to be suspended, metro sources informed.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Metro authorities have decided to set up a service on September 13 for students taking NEET exams at the request of the state government.
Student passengers will be able to travel with an e-pass and must present their admission card at the entry point of the metro station.