Did you know that one ticket can provide unlimited rides on most of Chennai’s MTC buses? If you did not, you are not alone. The Travel-As-You-Please scheme is popular, but more mechanisms like common ticketing need to be introduced to incentivise the use of public transport in Tamil Nadu’s capital city.

If one needs to get an idea of what a common ticketing system across different modes can do to public transportation, the travel-as-you-please Rs.30 ticket scheme of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) might provide some answers.

Using the ticket, a commuter can board any MTC services (except AC and night service) for one whole day. The scheme, launched a couple of years ago, stagnated initially because of poor marketing, but has now taken off despite the fact that many commuters are still not aware of it.

While close to 65 lakh such tickets were sold in 2008-09, more than 92 lakh tickets have already been sold so far this financial year. The average monthly usage in the last three months was about 11.5 lakh tickets.

“It is especially useful for long distance journey,” said M.S. Jawahar, a frequent commuter. “Suburban residents have more choice with respect to transit points as we can take any bus. In some routes, there is a bus only once in 30 minutes. Since reliability is a big issue, taking any other route is possible with a common ticket.”

According to him, it also makes economic sense to buy a common ticket when going out on weekend trips with family. “There is no need to skip deluxe buses because of the higher fare.”

The next logical step is to extend the common ticketing mechanism to other modes of transportation like MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) and provide an integrated alternative to private transport, said experts.

Supporting the idea of one common ticket across all modes of public transport, K.Gunasekaran, Assistant Professor, Division of Transportation Engineering, Anna University, said, “Public transport users need to be given more choices. Right now, it is too rigid. Efforts have to be made to attract more people to bus. Schemes like the Rs.30-ticket are a boon to those who come to city just for a day or two and travel around.”

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