Elderly struggle to get Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation smartcards

PUNE: Septuagenarian Tukaram Barve stood almost two hours in a long queue at the Swargate depot of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation on Thursday. Still, the state transport utility's smartcard -- mandatory to avail senior citizens' concession from January 1 next year -- was hard to come by.
"There is just one counter here. My legs are hurting but the smartcard is important for me.

I don't understand why the authorities have not created a special space to deal with this. I came to know about the card just a week ago," Barve told TOI.

Smartcard would be mandatory to avail concession in tickets of the MSRTC buses from the next year for senior citizens above 65. Naturally, the queues for the cards have been swelling at different depots, especially Swargate.
Senior officials of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) wondered why the last-minute rush.

They claimed that the smartcard plan was announced around six months ago.
"The card will be mandatory from January 1. At present, senior citizens need to show their Aadhaar or driving licence for concession on tickets. From January 1, smartcards will be mandatory.

The MSRTC has created infrastructure to ensure that people do not face any hassles while procuring the cards. We shall add some more counters if people are facing issues," said Yamini Joshi, the divisional controller of the MSRTC, Pune.
Baba Ghotre (70) claimed that he was trying to get the card for a couple of days now. "I suffer from arthritis and cannot stand for long hours. I have told my son, who works in Mumbai, to come and help me.

The authorities should immediately open more counters.

The Swargate stand is huge and a space can easily be created for issuing the smartcards," he said.
The MSRTC authorities stated that apart from opening counters at different bus depots, they had deputed some agents for the job. "They will help people in areas like Chandannagar, Khadki and Yerawada.

Further steps will soon be taken to streamline the process," another MSRTC official said.

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