It is cited as among the reasons for inadequate daily footfall in the metro

Complaints from metro commuters continue to pour in about the alleged inaction by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and Axis Bank on hassles associated with the usage of Kochi-1 travel card and app, about five years since the Kochi metro was commissioned.

This is even now being cited as among the major reasons for inadequate daily footfall in the metro. The daily patronage was 70,000 even at the best of times, during the pre-pandemic period. Only by validating the card or app can commuters avail the up to 33% discount on travel by metro.

Metro commuters have been complaining about the agonising time and effort they have to endure in order to procure the Kochi-1 card and to recharge the card and app. One among them, J. Paul Zacharia, who is in charge of partner relations at city-based Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) and a resident of Thrissur, narrated his harrowing experience at trying to recharge ₹500 using the Kochi-1 app.

“I travel to Ernakulam by train and board the metro from Town Hall station, to reach my office at Elamkulam. Once, the pre-paid card did not work when I swiped it at the metro station. The personnel there said its validity had expired, although there was no intimation / message that it was about to expire. Soon after, I applied for a new card, and I was allotted a new number. The card and the app were not functioning despite many attempts. I gave up on them and now purchase the paper ticket every day, by standing in the queue. The experience left me wondering about what is wrong with what would otherwise have been a simple process,” Mr. Zacharia said.

Yet another passenger said he was directed by metro personnel to an Axis Bank executive at Pettah station, wherein he was told to produce his Aadhaar card and mark his fingerprint for biometric identification, to get the card. “I was not keen and hence opted to avail the card from the regular ticket counter by producing my driving licence, although it would entail a delay of 15 days,” he said.

There have been other passengers who have been demanding monthly Open House, where metro and Axis Bank officials are present, to air their grievances about what was touted as a gamechanger pre-paid travel option.

Responding to the complaints, a senior Axis bank official said the Know Your Customer (KYC) process had been streamlined with paper-KYC and e-KYC processes available at metro stations. “The bank has, in addition, rolled out a new KYC feature through which customers can continue loading funds onto the card digitally. For this, the customers ought to register themselves on a portal hosted at the bank’s website. Doubts can be clarified with call centre agents who are fluent in English, Hindi, and Malayalam and who are given regular updates on developments in the metro.”

On complaints of the bank’s personnel not being present at major metro stations, he said they were generally available from 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. on working days. Customer suggestions / complaints are collated and shared with the bank by KMRL on a regular basis. Kochi-1 cards are generally issued in 10 minutes, provided they complete KYC through e-KYC (biometric), an approved process followed by banks across the industry.

Critics said many other metros did not insist on “cumbersome KYC processes” and had also done away with paper tickets.

Metro sources hoped the bank would set right the pre-paid travel processes at the earliest.

J Paul Zachariah (Coordinator, Business Development and Partner Relations at CPPR) comments in a news article published in The Hindu on May 2, 2022. Click here to read

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