- KSRTC is the State Transport Commission for the State of Karnataka, India. It operates about 7,000 buses on intra- and interstate bus services.
- Since 2004, all in-vehicle fare collection on KSRTC bus services is done using handheld Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs).
- KSRTC operates an advance booking and ticket issue service (AWATAR) through a network of counter, internet, and mobile applications
- ETMs are issued to the conductor at the start of the shift. At the end of shift, the conductor returns the ETM along with the waybill and pays in. All ETM transaction data is transferred to the KSRTC server.
- The ETMs are uploaded with the route, stage and fare table data for the applicable depot/service area. The ETMs store all transaction data at the level of the individual transaction.
- The ETM is menu-driven. The conductor can issue a wide range of tickets, record passes, enter additional data, view data, and print various reports
- Experience with the ETMs has been very positive, in terms of ergonomic suitability of the units, technical reliability, and conductor acceptance
Scope of the Case Study
The focus of the Case Study is the fare collection system utilized at KSRTC, which operates inter-state and intra-state bus services. A common system is used throughout KSRTC, which has a high level of diversity in service type across its 60 depots. This Case Study examines the practice at two operating units – the city bus division at Mysore and the luxury express (‘Volvo’) depot operating out of Bangalore.
The Case Study does not consider any electronic fare collection systems at the other Transport Corporations in Karnataka, nor among the private operators.
Karnataka State in Southern India has an area of sq. km. and a population of million. The principal city is Bangalore with a population of about 6 million, and is a global hub of IT and software development.
Public transport in Karnataka consists of the following modes:
- Urban bus services
- Outer suburban/hinterland bus services
- Inter-urban and inter-state bus services
- Auto tuk-tuks/three wheelers
- Long-distance and regional rail
The city of Mysore is located about 140 km west by southwest of Bangalore. It has a population of about 1.2 million people. It is a historic city with a significant tourist industry. The city is adjudged to be well-planned and it does not suffer traffic congestion of the scale of Bangalore.
Karnataka State Regional Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was established in 1961 under the Road Transport Corporation Act 1950.
Three Corporations were formed out from KSRTC:
- NWKRTC covering North West Karnataka
- NEWKRTC covering North East Karnataka
- BMTC covering Bangalore City
These Corporations are separate from KSRTC.
KSRTC operates intercity, regional and urban transport services in Southern Karnataka, and also provides interstate services (e.g. to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa). It has a fleet of about 7,000 buses.
KSRTC has 14 Divisions, of which Mysore City Transport Division (MCTD) is one.
The following are the key metrics for KSRTC:
- 14 Divisions
- 69 Depots
- 122 Bus stations
- 2 Regional workshops
- 3 Training centres
- 7,000 Vehicles
- 33,000 Workers
- 245,000 Kilometres operated daily
- 2,500,000 Passengers daily
- 48,000,000 Rupees daily revenue
KSRTC has a diverse service range, which can be broadly grouped in three categories:
- Service type: Inter-city, regional, sub-urban and city
- Operating style: Non-stop, express, limited stop, all stops
- Quality: Air-con, non air-con, ultra deluxe, deluxe, semi-deluxe, ordinary
The two units detailed in this Case Study are the ‘Volvo’ depot in Bangalore and the Mysore City Transport Division.
The ‘Volvo’ bus depot operates from the KSRTC central complex at KH Road in Bangalore. It operates the luxury air-conditioned buses (‘Airavat’) on intercity routes, both inter- and intra-state. In addition to a wide range of destinations in Karnataka, they also serve out-of-state destinations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Ahdhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra (Mumbai, Pune).
Mysore City Transport Division (MCTD) is a Division of KSRTC. It operates services in the City of Mysore.
MCTD operate a fleet of about 400 buses from 3 depots in Mysore. In response to the spatial and population expansion of the city, the fleet size will be augmented to about 475 buses. MCTD are currently planning a 4th depot, which is expected to be operational by end-2012.
MCTD operates 6 bus stations, including Central Bus Station, which is the main hub. The stations have all benefitted from recent refurbishment or development, as Mysore was one of the designated cities under JnNURM. Many of the stations have commercial development (mall, office).
All buses are operated with conductors.
MCTD operate a fleet of standard city buses, with a mix of models including Volvo (low floor), Tata, Ashok Leyland, of different models and ages. Some older models are currently being phased out.
Basis of Service/Route Award
KSRTC are the transport authority (the State Road Transport Commission). The Volvo depot and MCTD are units of KSRTC operating under its authority.
Permits or Contracts
KSRTC operates the routes under its own authority.
Allocation of Revenue and Cost Risks
KSRTC carries both revenue and cost risks.
Financial Flows within the System
Passenger revenues are collected at depot level or through the AWATAR system. These are centralized to KSRTC, which then authorizes budget-based expenditure at division and depot level.
Tariff Setting Mechanism
Tariffs are established by KSRTC.
Tariff Structure and Fare Product Range
Tariff Structure and Normal Fares
Tariffs at KSRTC are distance-based, utilizing a system of fare stages. Normal fare tables are generated based on the fare stages and the applicable pricing.
Half fares are available for children.
Luggage is charged for excess of the free allowance of 30 kg. per adult passenger.
Tickets are valid only for the journey on/for which they have been issued, and are not transferrable.
Variants on the Normal Fare
KSRTC applies a peak/lean season adjustment as follows:
- ‘Peak season’ months are April, May, June and October. During these months, tariffs are increased by 10% above the normal tariff for semi-deluxe, deluxe, ultra-deluxe and AC services.
- ‘Lean season’ months are July, August and September. During these months, a discount of 10% is offered on these services.
- A further variation is the ‘Flexi-fare’, which can be applied by KSRTC whenever they deem it appropriate. Flexi-fare is a reduction in fares that KSRTC can activate to address competition.
KSRTC has introduced a ‘sub-stages’ fare structure on Ordinary services to provide affordable fares to passengers travelling shorter distances in rural areas.
‘Special services’ are operated to meet additional requirements during festivals, fairs, weekends, holidays and other occasions. Extra charges above the normal fare are applied to compensate for the losses due to the uni-directional nature of the demand.
Commercial and promotional fare product range
The following commercial and promotional fare products are provided by KSRTC:
- Monthly Season tickets are available for commuters travelling up to 150 km per day. This tickets target the short-distance daily user and commuter market.
- Freedom Tickets provide one week of travel on KSRTC services both within and outside Karnataka State. Any number of journeys can be made without restriction on the number of kilometres travelled.
- Return journey tickets receive a 10% discount provided that the two journeys are booked together, in advance, through an advance reservation counter
- Differential day/night fares have are available for some service types, with discounts in the range of 5-30% available for day trips
- Free travel on KSRTC city/suburban services is available to holders of Advance Reservation tickets to/from their residence to the starting bus station of their journey
- Group bookings (4 or more persons booked on a single ticket) can avail of a 5% discount
Concessionary passes and fares
The following concessionary passes and tariffs are available:
- Student Concession Passes are available for students studying in schools, colleges, and other recognized learning institutions. These allow travel on KSRTC ordinary and express buses for distances of up to 40 km.
- Persons certified as blind by the authorities are entitled to free travel passes
- Persons who are certified as physically handicapped are entitled to passes for free travel on ordinary and express buses within a radius of 100 km of their registered address
- Freedom fighters are entitled to passes for free travel on ordinary and express bus services within the State of Karnataka
In case of delay of more than 30 minutes due to a fault of KSRTC (e.g. breakdown, crew shortage), customers with advance bookings on certain premium services are given Service Guarantee Coupons equating to approximately 10% of the fare price. These can be redeemed within 3 months as a discount on the price of a subsequent journey.
An Accident Relief Fund provides cover in case of death of a passenger while travelling on a KSRTC bus. An amount of 1 Rupee is collected on all tickets of 100 Rupees or more.
Extent of Integration and Common Ticketing
Currently there is no integration of tariffs across routes. Single tickets are sold for use on the specific trip, and do not
Various passes can be used on specified classes of KSRTC routes.
Currently there is no common ticketing with other operators – neither with the other RTCs (BMTC, NWKRTC, NEKRTC), nor with private operators.
Management and Oversight of Fare Collection, and allocation of Responsibilities
Overall responsibility for Fare Collection rests entirely with KSRTC. The functional responsibility can be summarized as follows:
KSRTC corporate is responsible for:
- Strategy and policy for fare collection, fare products and pricing
- Marketing and promotion of the fare products
- Development and deployment of ticketing systems, including the ETMs
- Development and deployment of operational, accounting and administrative procedures, reporting frameworks and supporting software and systems
- Management of the revenue and funds flow
- Oversight of the revenue protection system
- Development and management of the AWATAR reservation system
- Hosting and management of the AWATAR technical system, servers and databases
KSRTC divisions and depots are responsible for:
- Front-line revenue collection on the bus service
- Management of the conductors, ETMs and support services
- Management of the bus stations in their area
- Remitting all collected revenue to KSRTC corporate
- Management of the primary data collection and inputs
- Revenue protection and analysis
Nominated agents are responsible for:
- Sales and advance reservations through AWATAR
- Remitting collected revenue to KSRTC
Revenue Sharing or Revenue Distribution
There are currently no Revenue Sharing or Revenue Distribution agreements with other operators.
There is no requirement for revenue distribution within KSRTC. All revenues are centralized, with the operational units authorized to make budget-based expenditure.
Division, depot and route allocations of revenues are for management, financial reporting and performance analysis purposes. They are not matched by funding flows.
Conductors and drivers receive 1% of the value of the revenue for the shift (cash fares plus AWATAR bookings plus passes). This is calculated within the ETM and already deducted from the pay-in amount. No further revenue distribution is required.
Ticketing Technologies used
Hand-held Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs) are currently in use on all KSRTC services.
Currently, KSRTC has ETMs provided by two different suppliers, Quantum and MicroFX, who are both Indian suppliers. KSRTC are trending towards Quantum.
The handheld ETMs have the following features:
- single integrated unit consists of a keypad, multi-line display, thermal printer, processor, memory, battery, data transfer port
- light in weight
- ergonomically designed to hold the unit in one hand and enter keystrokes with the other
- the keyboard consists of 8 rows by 6 columns of keys, colour-coded
ETM Functions and Menus
The ETM is menu driven. This allows the conductor to access a wide range of options that include:
- Set route, stage and other trip data
- Issue printed tickets
- Record passes
- Enter transaction and event data
- View trip details and totals
- Print reports
In addition, there is an Inspector function, which the conductor should not use.
Route/stages are set, tickets are issued, passes recorded, and data entered using menus and keys as described below.
Reports are generated as described below. Some reports are printed by the conductor as standard procedure – e.g. start and end of shift – while others are printed as required.
Reference data is prepared and KSRTC server, which holds both the current applicable fare information and any new fare information.
When the ETM is issued to the conductor, the relevant fare information is uploaded and stored in the ETM. When relevant, the ETM will hold both the current fare information and any new fare information.
The ETM will automatically adjust fares according to the seasons (peak, normal, lean). It will also change over the fare on a designated date, as required.
Means of Operation
The basic mode of operation is:
- User turns on the machine and selects the route to be operated
- User selects the direction of travel (up/down)
- ETM defaults to first stage on the route, which the user should confirm
- User increments the stage number as the journey proceeds
- Basic ticket issue is by entering the destination section number and a ticket issue key
- Half fare and luggage tickets are issued by a further keystroke
- Up to 9 passengers can be covered on a single ticket (showing the number of full and half fares and luggage items)
- The user closes the trip with a specific option from the menu
- The user has options to print out the ‘detailed’ or summary data for the trip, and for the whole day. Note that ‘detailed’ is additional details in the summary.
Issue and Return Procedure
Each day the conductor goes to the depot to receive an ETM. The machine number, conductor’s number and driver’s number are entered in the system. A unique number is generated for that shift, which appears on the waybill, all tickets, and all reports generated by the conductor during the shift. A waybill is then printed out which includes the total number of each type of emergency tickets. The conductor prints a start of shift report, which should show all accumulator totals set to zero.
At the end of shift, the conductor generates a Collection Report, which shows the total value of tickets issued, and the amount of to be paid in. An end of shift report is printed off. The ETM is handed in, from which the transaction and record data is downloaded to the server.
The conductor hands in the waybill, which contains the following handwritten information:
- Dispatcher signature for each departure
- Totals of window bookings (AWATAR), kilometers operated and other shift-related data
- Number of manual tickets used, by type, if this was necessary during the shift due to ETM problem
Any manual tickets used are entered to the system at this time. All other manual data on the waybill is entered later for accounting and analysis.
The ETM is placed on a charging rack to recharge the battery.
Tickets, Passes and Payments supported by the ETM
The following tickets are generated through the ETM:
- Adult ticket
- Child ticket
- Luggage ticket
- Promotional ticket
- Private reservation
- Concession ticket
- Police warrant ticket
- Journalist ticket
In each case, a paper ticket is issued bearing the following information:
- issuer identifier data
- unique ticket number
- date and time of issue
- the route and boarding stage
- destination stage paid for
- fare basis and fare basis
Tickets are printed in both English and Kannada (the local language).
Tickets can be issued for up to nine passengers on one ticket. Tickets can also be issued for combinations of adult, child and luggage.
The ETMS are programmed to record the following passes:
- Elected representatives
- Physically challenged
- Freedom Fighters
In each case the conductor selects a menu option to record and the passenger by pass type.
The ETMs are programmed to record the following payments made:
- Bus Stand fee
- Tollgate fee
- Bridge fee
The conductor selects the payment type from the menu and enters the amount.
Data Entry via the ETM
The conductor can enter information via the ETM. A menu option allows the conductor to select the information category, and the appropriate number, value, etc. is entered:
- Police Warrants
- Payments made
- Diesel issue entries
- Bus station payment
- Number of window bookings
Where relevant, this data is then included in the calculations for the conductor’s end of shift report and cash reconciliation.
The ETM holds two levels of transaction data:
1) A full record all transactions, including individual ticket issue and pass recordings, as well as data entries and events. These are associated with the individual trip, and thus date and route stamped. The individual ticket transaction data includes a record of:
- Ticket sequence number
- Boarding stage
- Alighting stage
- Fare type indicator (full, half, luggage)
- Fare paid
- Time and date of issue
2) Cumulative totals of tickets and values by ticket types. These are totaled by trip and for the shift.
Reports generated through the ETM
The following reports can be generated through the ETM:
- Status report
- Tripwise details
- Ticket details
- Collection report
- Stagewise details
- Inspection report
Reports are printed in English only.
The status report provides summary information including:
- Date/time of report issue
- ETM Number
- Unique shift-related number
- Schedule number
- Route, trip and stage number at time of print
- Current value of various ticket and cash value totals
The status report is printed by the conductor at the beginning of the shift. Among other things, this assures the conductor that all totals are properly reset to zero.
A Trip report can be printed at any time, and includes the following information:
- Time/date of printing
- Unique shift number
- Conductor and driver number
- ETM number
- Route and schedule number
- Trip identifier
- Trip start time
- Current ticket number
- Total values of tickets and cash
Options for the Trip report include all trips, the current trip, or a selected trip operated during the shift.
The Trip Report can also be used in case of a breakdown or other circumstance where the passengers need to be transferred from one bus to another, so that the receiving bus conductor has the needed information to accept the tickets of those passengers who have already paid and are in possession of a ticket.
A Ticket Details report can be printed which provides a listing of all tickets issued. It can also provide a summary of tickets by type, by trip.
A Collection Report is generated by the conductor at the end of the shift. This calculates the summary data and totals, and shows the amount to be paid-in. The conductor attaches the Collection Report to the waybill, writes any other relevant entries to the waybill, and then settles the account with the cash office.
At any time, the conductor can print the following:
- A list of all routes loaded into the ETM memory. This shows the route number, origin and destination, and the number of stops.
- The fare table for an individual route, showing the names and stage numbers of the stops on that route, the kilometrage, and the fare. The fare from the origin terminus to each stop is shown on one list, between intermediate stage on another list
Manual tickets procedure
In cases where the ETM malfunctions, conductors switch to manual ticket issue. Each conductor has a box with a range of numbered tickets of various denominations (Re. 1 up to Rs. 100). The conductor issues combinations of the various denominations of paper tickets to make up the appropriate fare for each passenger.
The serial numbers of these tickets are recorded in the ticketing system against the conductor, and printed on the waybill for the shift. The conductor writes in the number of tickets of each denomination used. These are entered directly into the computer system when the conductor pays in and hands in the waybill. Additional stock is issued to the conductor as required. The conductor should be able to account for all manual tickets at any time on request, as these are value stock.
Data analysis and reporting
The ETMs provide a full record on the on-bus fare collection. The data is transferred from the ETMs to KSRTC’s server at the end of each conductor shift. This allows a full reporting of revenue collected by close of business each day.
The Fare Collection system (ETMs and AWATAR) generate specific reports, but are part of a broader Depot Computerisation and MIS.
The revenue system provides reports including:
- Daily revenue totals
- Revenue reports by route, by schedule, by conductor
- Periodic comparisons
- Route revenue profiles
Reconciliation issues are detected and accounted for by the back-office systems.
At present, detection of anomalies and trends warranting investigation are done manually. This is being revised and future developments will include computer-assisted analysis of trends and anomalies.
Off-vehicle Ticketing Sales and Distribution
KSRTC provides a comprehensive off-vehicle ticketing sales and reservation system (not available for the urban transport). This is branded as AWATAR (Any Where Any Time Automated Reservation). AWATAR is backed by extensive publicity and marketing, and has been positioned and developed as a strong brand of KSRTC.
The AWATAR system also allows customers to make hotel bookings, and hence has attracted substantial interest from both Indian and international travellers.
Advance ticket sales and reservations can be made in three ways with AWATAR:
- At any of the network of about 600 counters
- On the internet
- By mobile phone
Customers can still purchase their ticket at a desk in the bus station, or from the conductor on the bus.
Currently, about 25,000 tickets are sold every day through AWATAR. Of these, about 85% are sold through the counters network. The counters cover a wide range of locations including the bus stations and 3rd party systems.
Most of the remainder, about 3,000 per day, is booked online over the internet.
A small, but growing, number of bookings are made using mobile phone. This means is being promoted, especially to younger tech-savvy people, and receiving favourable media coverage. Users need to make an initial registration online, and can make all subsequent reservations on their mobile phone. The reasoning is that when the customer’s data has been acquired using the more convenient internet means, the reservations by mobile phone can be much simpler, requiring less inputs, menus and keystrokes. The user receives what is effectively an e-ticket, which is then shown to the conductor.
The AWATAR databases are stored at KSRTC Data Centre, with hot backup in another city in India. This hosts a number of databases, including the customer registration database (c. 160,000 registered customers), the transaction database, and the payments/billing database.
Passes are sold through Pass Issue Counters. These are located at all bus stations and are open 1000 to 1700 daily.
Operational and Logistical aspects of Fare Collection
ETMs are issued to the conductor for each shift. They are not personalized. ETMs are stored in the depot when not in use and placed in a battery-recharging rack.
Revenue protection is carried out at three layers:
1) KSRTC corporate level: This is responsible for security and overall revenue protection management. They have a centralized line checking squad which can operate anywhere on the KSRTC network.
2) Divisional level: Each of the 14 divisions of KSRTC has its own security function and line-checking staff
3) Depot level: Depots do not usually engage directly in line-checking. Their normal role is to cross-check the information, and analyse the revenue and other trends. They generate lists of low-earning routes/conductors, and identify other anomalies for the divisional checking squad.
Passengers travelling without a ticket are liable to a fine of ten times the fare or 500 Rupees, whichever is less.
As a security feature, ETMs are automatically disabled 3 days after issue (in normal operation, this is reset each day when the ETM is issued at the depot) This limits the usability of a stolen ETM.
Capital costs of Fare Collection System
The capital cost of the fare collection is mostly the cost of the ETM units. The cost items include:
- ETM units, including spares and holders
- Depot server and software
- Recharging rack for the ETMs
The actual capital cost data has not been made available.
Operating Costs of the Fare Collection System
Operating costs currently consist of:
- Thermal printer paper, which is standard stationary issue
- Maintenance of the units
Each depot has an office at which the conductor collects and returns the ETM, and at which the conductor pays in the day’s revenue. These are normal functions of a bus company and are unlikely to have incurred any marginal increase in staff resources.
Most of the waybill data is entered manually into the computer system. As a waybill-based system was used prior to the introduction of ETMs, it can be assumed that this data entry is not additional work and hence did not incur increased operational or administrative costs.
The actual operational cost data or changes to staff numbers have not been made available.
Benefits realized from the System
KSRTC considers that they have received substantial benefits from implementing the ETM system. Key benefits include:
- All passengers receive a printed ticket, containing a lot of information for both the passenger and the revenue protection unit
- Reduction in possibilities for fraud and misuse by conductors
- Availability of a large amount of timely, accurate information
- Reduction in the administrative burden to input and analyse the data
- Ability to generate routine and on-request reports, as the daily and periodic data is accessible on computer
- Easier working conditions for the conductor
- Improved image for both the company and the conductor
With about 7 years of experience with the handheld ticket machines, KSRTC now cannot imagine that they would operate without ETMs or revert to some low-technology system. Two key items cited are that the administrative burden to have the same level of information would be very high; and that conductors would be extremely unhappy and some would probably leave.
Critical Success factors in Implementation
See following sections on experience in implementation and operation.
Experience in Implementation
The implementation phase went well, albeit with the usual need to manage the deployment and transition.
Conductors were given training on the new system. While some took to it quite easily straight away, for many it took a longer time. It took about a year until the conductors were all using the system properly. This gave challenges for the operational management and the revenue protection personnel, on the one hand to protect the revenue and on the other to exercise reasonable tolerance and have understanding for bona fide errors.
The machines were reliable and worked well, so there was not any major unreliability and problem-solving phase. Nonetheless, there have been many changes to the ETM since the initial version. Many of these changes were modifications based on practice, rather than overcoming design flaws. These changes had to be managed, and appropriate instruction given.
There had been an option to issue paper tickets to pass holders. This was discontinued, and now passes are just recorded by keystroke.
It was felt that conductors were misusing some menu options, or accessing them unnecessarily. These were amended or disabled.
At the depot side, some problems were encountered which required cleaning or correcting data. These were resolved.
Experience in Operations
In general, the ETMs work well.
The ETMs are suitably functional, robust, and technically reliable. They are light both when in the pouch worn around the neck, and in the hand. The machine is compact, with a good balance between being small enough to fit in the hand while the keys and display are of sufficient size to be easily usable.
About 0.5% ETMs are not available daily for some reason. This equates to about 1 in 200 machines, or less than one per depot per day. KSRTC are not completely satisfied with this level of technical performance. Perhaps more important is that the non-availability rate is stable, there have not discerned any upward trend in unit failures (which might signal a looming problem).
The printer unit is reliable and compact. The thermal paper works well, is clear and retains its colour and image without distortion, smudging, blurring, fading, etc.
Battery life is deemed satisfactory. Battery life is fairly directly related to the number of tickets issued. Typically, an ETM could issue about 1,500 tickets before becoming depleted, which is more than sufficient for even the busiest route. The actual number of tickets issued per day varies greatly with the type of service.
Ticket issue speed is considered satisfactory. Most of the services are longer-distance, so ticket speed is less of an issue compared to ease of navigation of the menu and ticket options. This aspect is considered satisfactory. For Mysore city services, ticket speed is also considered satisfactory even on the urban services.
The full route information and fare table is uploaded to the ETM on issue every day. The total amount of the data to be transferred is less than 1 Mb. The time taken for this process is not an issue as the data transfer is completed within the time required for the waybill issues processes.
Conductors trust the ETMs and there is no resistance to their use. For newly recruited conductors, it is simply a thing to learn. Even older conductors who were used to manual tickets are now fully comfortable with the ETMs, although it did take some of them a bit longer than others.
The ETMs were first implemented in 2004, so KSRTC has experience of the full life-cycle. The units have a 3-year warranty. They have an accounting book-life of 5 years, and have been lasting this duration. The ETMs are replaced after 5 years, they are not worked to failure.
Potential Developments in the near future
The following items are considered for future developments:
- GSM for data transfer. Currently the standard ETMs do not have GSM capability. KSRTC are currently conducting trials of GSM-enabled ETMs and will then consider whether to deploy them across part or all of the fleet.
- RFID capability – e.g. for inspectors to use to secure access to the Inspector functions of the ETM
To be determined.