Mumbai: BEST bus conductors need training on cashless transactions, say commuters

Updated: 15 September, 2020 14:38 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

In the days of the pandemic, when one is expected to do contactless transactions, BEST bus conductors have been asking for cash payment, says a commuter.

A poster that promotes cashless transactions on BEST buses
A poster that promotes cashless transactions on BEST buses

Cashless transactions on BEST buses need a push. With now BEST being the lifeline of the city, commuters and activists find that BEST on-board staff are still reluctant to do the cashless transactions and said that the undertaking needs to train its staff to get this ticketless mode cracking.

“In the days of the pandemic, when one is expected to do contactless transactions, BEST bus conductors have been asking for cash payment, in spite of having QR code for contactless transactions in the buses,” Chetan Bordawekar, honorary secretary of Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai Suburbs said.

“On Tuesday, September 1 at 12:32 p.m., I boarded 700 Ltd. bus at Thane Station east. I found a note about the cashless transactions on the back of the seat but it did not mention how to do execute it. So, I approached the on-duty conductor who said he had the QR code,” Bordawekar added.

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“However, instead of explaining how to execute a cashless transaction, he insisted on cash payment of Rs. 50 for the daily pass. So, without arguing much, I paid him cash. I have written a letter to the General Manager and the Transport wing of the BEST requesting them to provide training to conductors about digital wallets and online transactions (Google Pay/ Phonepe transactions). Also, make them aware that by contactless transactions are safer,” he said.

He explained that the notice on cashless transactions is not self-explanatory. They do not specify if passengers need to contact the conductor, who normally has the QR code, or download an app if any. So the information is incomplete and not helpful. If digital payments are encouraged, it will prove to be of immense help during these days of the pandemic,” he added.

Mid-Day, in its July 2 edition, had reported how the BEST was finally moving in the direction of UPI cashless transactions with bus conductors now having the QR code scanner badges. The experiment had started at two bus depots, Colaba and Wadala, initially with due training to the staff.

Explaining the process, a senior BEST official said that the commuter would have to tell the conductor his destination, he will check the fare and then tell the amount that needs to be paid. Once this is done, the commuter can scan the badge with any available on-line payment options and start the transaction. Once the badge is scanned, the app will show the bus depot and the badge number of the conductor with the amount to be paid. But clearly this is not happening.

This transaction mode was completely separate from its app and can be carried out independently with it being available for both Android and IoS users and the transactions will be recorded on a centralised computer at the bus depots, which are tallied separately.

BEST has been facing issues with loose change for quite some time. Coins worth crores are collected by the undertaking every single day and these end up lying at the strong rooms of 27 bus depots in Mumbai city and suburbs as banks too have been slow in procuring such a huge volume. As a way out, the BEST then decided to give part salary in coins to dispose off this amount. However, if this QR code method is promoted well, it will help the BEST Undertaking in a major way.

Some officials refused to speak on the record but said that the cashless transaction mode was still evolving and would take time to settle down. “We are still working on the idea to make it more popular and the on-duty staff is being trained and counseled as and when possible. The process will be streamlined soon,” he added.

Private buses await circular

Private tourist buses that have been allowed to conduct operations in Unlock4 are awaiting a government circular on the waiver of various taxes as promised by Maharashtra Minister of Transport, Harsh Kotak. Transports had also planned a protest, against the end of the moratorium that ended on September 1. “We have postponed our protest, awaiting Supreme Court decision and the government’s response to it. Also, tourist buses are not able to start operations immediately as the official order for tax waiver is still awaited,” Harsh Kotak, secretary of Mumbai Bus Malak Sangathan, said.

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First Published: 12 September, 2020 10:56 IST

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