If you are planning to buy, and keep buying monorail tickets using the Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) installed at various monorail stations, start stocking up on those old one-rupee coins. In order to purchase tickets from these machines, you will need to feed them old one-rupee coins. The machines will swallow the smaller, shinier and newer one-rupee coins, but no ticket will be coughed out.
The machines' refusal to recognise these new coins is an unexpected fallout of the many delays the monorail project has suffered. The machines were manufactured three years ago, when the new Re 1 coins weren't yet in circulation. Now that the monorail is finally running, the machines are outdated and not designed to give tickets in exchange for the smaller, new Re 1 coins.
The outdated machines were one of the many things that marred the monorail experience for many passengers on Day 1. Moreover, the computerised system on the machines at Wadala and Chembur monorail stations stopped working hours after operations started.
There is one TVM at each of the stations. On Sunday morning, many commuters made use of them to get their tickets, while others were left searching their pockets and wallets in vain for old one-rupee coins. Scoomi, one of the firms responsible for the monorail, had posted employees near the machines to help commuters get their tickets.
"The TVMs that are present at stations were designed three years ago, and so the new one-rupee coins cannot be used in them, as they are smaller in comparison. If people insert the small coin in the machine to buy the tickets, the coin will go inside the machine but the ticket won't come out. Our officials were present at each machine to help the commuters," said an official from Scoomi, requesting anonymity.
MiD DAY visited Chembur and Wadala stations, and found that the TVMs weren't working at either. Sources from MMRDA admitted that the machines stopped working at many other stations. The machines were purchased from an Indian manufacturer. While the authorities restarted the TVMs several times, the glitches continued, till all the machines were shut down at noon.
Asked why the TVMs stopped working, the official said, "We are yet to find out why, but one of the possible reasons is that the commuters inserted the new small one rupee coins. We will soon be making modifications to the machine, so that passengers can use any kind of one-rupee coin."
While the machine has the provision of taking notes, they rejected soiled notes inserted by passengers. The machines also accept coins of denominations 5 and 10, as well as notes of denominations 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000.
Overcrowded trains, delayed departures plague Day 1
With thousands of curious citizens lining up for a ride on the swanky coaches, there were serpentine queues at the stations from the early hours yesterday.
While the train can only carry 560 passengers at a time, many more than the number pushed their way into the coaches. At several points in the journey, the train had to be stopped and passengers were asked to dismount, so that it could move. The train that left Chembur station at 12.07 am was stopped at RCF station, and some disgruntled passengers had to get off.
Departure was also delayed from the stations when passengers took too long to get off. The doors started closing while passengers were still trying to enter, setting off the safety buzzer. According to MMRDA, the first train that left Wadala at 7.08 am had very few passengers, as the gates were opened to the public only at 7.10 am, when the train had already left.
Sunil Khade from Nallasopara claimed that he was the first commuter on the monorail. Khade also claimed that he reached the station at 1 am, in order to make sure that he would have the privilege of becoming the first commuter of the service. However, Abhishek Chopra (extreme right) claimed that though he was second in queue, he managed to enter the monorail first. Pic/Bipin Kokate
No public toilets
Though the MMRDA has spent over Rs 1,100 crore on the construction of phase I, there are no public toilets at any of the monorail stations. Only the monorail staffers have access to the washrooms. MiD DAY observed that passengers who had come from the distant suburbs for the monorail experience and had to stand in queue for over an hour, had nowhere to go to answer nature's call. Some were seen urinating at a distance of 100 m from the station. Senior citizens who had arrived for their first monorail trip were heard complaining about the lack of amenities.
No water coolers or drinking water
Public toilets are not the only basic amenities missing at the station premises. No drinking water facilities were in sight. This does not bode well for passengers who use the service in the summer months.
Not a single dustbin was in sight at the Wadala and Chembur monorail stations, leaving the first batch of passengers of the monorail to litter the stations with impunity. Garlands that were used to decorate the stations remained on the walls, encouraging vandals to pull at them and tear them, soiling the station premises with petals, leaves and tinsel.
Good crowd management
Thankfully, no chaos was observed at either of the stations, and the security personnel managed the crowds efficiently. The doors closed automatically after the designated duration. Some passengers couldn't step out of or enter the trains in time, and this led to considerable crowding. The security guards made sure that the crowds emptied the platforms once they got off the train.
Rs 2.2 lakh
Revenue collected through the sale of tickets and smart cards yesterday