Why MRT passes are blacklisted, how long it takes to get it back

Mir Mofrad Jafar is a regular commuter of the metro rail service in the capital. Around two and a half months ago, on his way home from office, his MRT (mass rapid transit) pass was blacklisted at the Karwan Bazar metro rail station. He is yet to know the reasons for his pass getting blocked. He didn’t even get his pass back.

He shared his experience in a post on a Facebook group named ‘Traffic Alert’. Several others complained the same in that Facebook post. One of them said his MRT pass was shown blacklisted while trying to punch it at Motijheel station. He was told that he would have to pay Tk 250 to get it back. Following that, he took a new pass.

Another passenger named Tanzid Hasan said the same happened to him. He got back the card six to seven months later after paying Tk 500. He said he had a balance of Tk 300 in his previous pass, which was transferred to his new pass.

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There are two types of metro rail tickets – MRT passes and single trip tickets. Many of the passengers, in particular the daily commuters, prefer MRT passes to avoid the hassle of standing in long queues for tickets. In addition to that, the ticket prices are 10 per cent less for MRT passes. Besides, the MRT pass holders can use the service up to 30 minutes after the closure of ticket counters at the stations. A passenger can keep a balance of maximum Tk 10,000 on a single MRT pass.

According to the Metro Rail Rules 2016 cards or passes get blacklisted due to 'irregularities' in the use. However, the authorities did not give any specific reason for the delay in returning the passes.

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Speaking to Prothom Alo last Friday, Tropical Homes Limited’s senior executive of the sales and marketing department, Mir Mofrad Jafar, 32, said his MRT pass wasn’t working at a metro rail station on 23 January. He was told by the officials at the station that his MRT pass had been blacklisted. They told him to contact the station from where he had issued the MRT pass. Later, he went there and submitted the card after filling up the specific form. He was told that he would be contacted within the next seven working days after the pass gets fixed. Some two and half months have passed since then, but he did not get his pass back.

The reasons behind passes getting blacklisted

The possible reasons behind MRT passes getting blocked have been mentioned in the policy titled 'Management Procedures for Damaged, Invalid and Blacklisted Returnable MRT Passes and Single Trip Tickets of Dhaka Metro Rail Passengers' on the DMTCL website.

The policy says that even if the pass appears to be fine, the system will show the pass as blacklisted. Such passes are blacklisted through the ‘clearing house’ due to uneven use of the pass. Passes will be considered damaged if they are bent, folded, cut, torn, broken, or perforated.

According to Dhaka Metrorail fare collection guidelines, if there is any irregularity in the use of MRT pass, the pass will be blocked autonomously.

How to get the pass back?

The DMTCL policies further say if a passenger wants to unblock the MRT pass, then he or she will have to fill-up a specific form and submit it to the Excess Fare Office (EFO) operator. The EFO operator will note the details of the blacklisted card on the registrar.

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Then the station controller will verify the blacklisted MRT passes and send it to the official on duty of the signalling and telecom sub-section. After that, the officials of the signalling and telecom sub-section will forward the pass to the clearing house authorities with all necessary information to unblock it.

It’s hard to tell without knowing the reasons for the card getting blocked. A passenger can get back the card by applying after filling up the specific form. Sometimes it takes long; sometimes it’s done very quickly
Tarafdar Mahmudur Rahman, deputy project director, public relations department, DMTCL

Speaking regarding this to Prothom Alo, deputy project director of the public relations department of the DMTCL (MRT Line-6) Tarafdar Mahmudur Rahman said, “More than 100,000 MRT passes have been issued. We are receiving some complaints of passes getting blocked. Sometimes the passengers don’t punch the pass in a proper way. A pass may also get blacklisted if it is damaged or in case of any software glitch.”

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Speaking regarding the reasons behind the delay in getting back the blacklisted passes, he said, “It’s hard to tell without knowing the reasons for the card getting blocked. A passenger can get back the card by applying after filling up the specific form. Sometimes it takes long; sometimes it’s done very quickly.”

Expressing his discontent for not getting the pass back even after two and a half months, Mir Mofrad Hossain told Prothom Alo, “Every time I go to the station for my card, they (metro rail officials) say they don’t have any updates. They kept on saying they would inform me once it’s done. They said a service charge of 50 taka would be deducted from the 200 taka taken as the price for the cards and the remaining Tk 150 would be refunded. However, I won’t get the balance that I had on my previous card. How could that be? No matter how much the balance is, why won’t I get it?”

Failing to get back his MRT pass, Mofrad now has issued a rapid pass for the time being. He will be able to commute on a few bus services and metro rail. He also lodged a complaint with the Consumers Association Bangladesh (CAB) over this.

The metro rail service has been popular among the city dwellers right from the start for its rapid transit facilities. Passengers like Mir Mofrad and others expect immediate solutions for problems like these to maintain the quality of the service.

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu