The astronomical hike in season pass price in the city might have flooded the Internet and social media chat groups with 'pass' jokes, but the only thing not funny about any of them is that there is no scope for a refund or a duplicate if you lose your pass, some of them yearly and running into thousands of rupees.
While Mumbaikars thronged ticket windows and cumulatively bought a massive 98,680 half-yearly season tickets (HST) and 95,030 yearly season tickets (YST) between June 21 and 24, when the hike was partially rolled back, railway authorities in the city maintained they were not contemplating any rule change to facilitate refunds or duplicates.
A top-ranking official said while refund is "almost definitely" not going to be allowed, allowing the issuance of duplicates is something that is at least technically feasible.
"The railway's servers anyway maintain the number and basic data of a commuter's identity card for seven years. So finding out when a person bought a pass and other such details is not rocket science. Hence, technically, a duplicate can be issued," said an official.
However, there are railway officials who say the suburban system never had a provision for issuing duplicates for a reason. "In the suburban system, it is impossible to check everyone's ticket on a regular basis because of the sheer volume. Issuing duplicates could lead to large-scale fraud. How does the railways get proof that a commuter indeed lost his/her pass? Isn't it possible s/he has turned it over to somebody and then applied for a duplicate. How does the railways find out if two people are travelling on the same season pass — one the original, which never got lost, and the other an officially-issued duplicate?" asked the official.
Since all matters pertaining to fares are decided by the Railway Board, officials in the city were unwilling to come on record about the matter. Calls and SMSes sent to member (traffic), Railway Board, DP Pande, the top ticketing official in the railway hierarchy, went unanswered.