Railways and Maharashtra govt working on 'Universal Travel Pass’ for commuters, to be used for local train, metro and monorail

A new QR code identity card, with a photograph of the passholder, is on the cards for the Mumbaikar travelling on local trains. Railways and the state government are working on a plan, wherein there will be five levels of travel using these QR code-based photo ID cards, as declared by the BMC. People in Mumbai and its metropolitan region can access suburban local trains, the metro and monorail with this ‘Universal Travel Pass’.

All the passes mention the level of travel, with travel permitted for the level stated on the pass and those below it. For example, if the pass is for Level 3, the bearer may travel if the level of restrictions in force is 1, 2 or 3. For Level 2 passes, then the bearer may travel only if the level of restrictions under force is 1 or 2. Level 5 passholders may travel across all levels.

“The difference between the QR code identity cards this time and the one introduced earlier is that now, there will be a photograph of the person in the ID card. Our staff will scan these QR coded cards. However, the difficulty is monitoring commuters during peak hours - it becomes difficult to scan everyone entering the station, as it would cause crowding,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.

It is proposed that the company applying for these QR coded ID cards will have to approach the state disaster management authority. The details of the employees will then be uploaded and depending on the role of the company/organisation, the level to be allocated will be decided by the government authorities. The QR code on the pass can be scanned through any smartphone using a QR code reader and will instantly display whether or not a particular one is authentic.

This would make it impossible for people to travel using fake passes, a letter written by the State Disaster Management Authority to the railways stated. Also, all public transport authorities, including rail authorities, have been empowered to collect fines. This is the basis on which medical, state and Central government employees have been categorised for travel.

“Given that a large number of travellers need passes, we will make them mandatory from a date, which will be communicated with the railways later. Till then, the current system of checking and regulating will continue for travellers who do not possess the universal pass,” the letter has stated.

The Central Railway authorities have caught more than 3,000 people with fake IDs while Western Railway have caught over 750 people and collected Rs 15 lakh in fines. In June, authorities have caught 30,346 ticketless travellers so far and collected Rs 1.09 crore in fines.

Gopal Shetty, Member of Parliament said: “The state government should come up with a plan that would allow common people to travel. All those who have received their two vaccination doses should be allowed to travel in local trains, on showing the certificate. This will also encourage more people to get vaccinated.”

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Free Press Journal