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Automatic Fare Collection SystemSurat Smart City Development Ltd. (SSCDL)

How Digitization and Automation Transformed Urban Mobility in Surat, India

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Renowned as a center for diamonds and textiles, Surat is a bustling city in the state of Gujarat on India's west coast. The eighth-largest city in India and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, Surat is now home to nearly 7 million people, but it has been struggling with traffic congestion and underfunded infrastructure. 

After the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inaugurated in 2014, the government initiated the Digital India program in a bid to promote digitization of various fields. A related development in the urban planning field was the advent of smart cities in India. When Surat was chosen in 2015 as one of 100 cities in India that would be developed under the Smart Cities Mission, the Surat government focused on revolutionizing its public transit system in partnership with NEC Corporation India.


Surat has struggled with aging transit infrastructure and a fleet of 861 public buses. The Surat Municipal Corporation and Surat Smart City Development Limited faced these specific challenges:

  • Improving the efficiency of travel operations to make them safer, less polluting, economical, and easier to use through better information provision.
  • Delivering swift, comfortable, economical, and eco-friendly mobility solutions.
  • Establishing a seamless transition and transaction system to meet the growing demand of citizens.
  • Improving the reliability and punctuality of bus operations and elevating commuter satisfaction levels.


NEC began working with Surat Smart City Development under the auspices of Surat Municipal Corporation to integrate various bus offerings in high mobility corridors. The solution was to implement an Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS), a comprehensive ticketing tool that digitizes ticket issuance and fare collection and works with mobile apps and smart cards. 

Drawing on its extensive experience in digitizing and automating public transit globally, NEC deployed the system across all bus networks in Surat City including the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) and City Bus Services in high mobility corridors. NEC then managed the system's operation and maintenance for seven years. 

Launched in March 2017 and completed in February 2019, the Surat bus AFCS integrates the various bus networks and lets passengers use a single ticket throughout their journey while accessing information and ticketing services on a mobile app called Surat Sitilink. The app allows users to check fares, search for transfer routes, and buy tickets.

Under the new AFCS, passengers can still use paper tickets in addition to smartphone-generated QR tickets, or the Surat Money Card, an open loop smart card that can be recharged at multiple service delivery points, including civic centres of SMC & BRT stations, using notes, coins and bankcards.

NEC has a long history of integrating smart mobility solutions and has provided backbone systems for public transport smart cards, including components ranging from center servers to station servers. Based on that track record, smart mobility operators trust NEC for its ability to integrate complex systems used by both operators and end users, including passenger purchases on mobile devices. 

Launched in October 2017, Phase 1 of the AFC system consisted of cash-based QR ticketing in around 300 city buses using Handheld Ticketing (HHT) machines and Surat Sitilink, in addition to other systems that make up the bus transport ecosystem. Under Phase 2, contactless RuPay-based smartcard fare payment using fare gates and validators began at 166 BRT stations and on 575 city buses.

Upon completion, the AFCS consisted of the following components:

  • 206 point of sale devices to sell tickets and record sales
  • 1,430 electronic ticketing machines for selling tickets aboard buses and helping improve on-time operations
  • 414 turnstiles with fare gate validators, preventing unauthorized rides and reducing manual intervention
  • 195 swing gates at each BRTS station


Surat citizens could now use a modern, automated, digitized and more eco-friendly bus transport system that was easier to use. Ridership increased from 28,000 passengers per day in 2014 to 210,000 in 2022. Surat Money Card transactions reached 72,754 per day, up from zero in 2014.

These improvements made bus use easy, transparent and more accessible. For passengers, benefits included:

  • One-tap embarking and disembarking
  • Faster, seamless and user-friendly ticket issuance
  • The ability to buy tickets anytime, anywhere
  • Eliminating the need for cash to buy tickets
  • Increased reliability and passenger satisfaction

For operators of bus networks in Surat City, the new AFCS brought the following operational improvements:

  • Highly flexible fare structure
  • Accurate, strict fare collection—no more unauthorized boarding
  • Improved on-time operation by shortening passenger boarding & alighting times
  • Lower equipment & operation costs by reducing cash handling
  • Single system across all operators
  • Accurate data on needs and sales for data-driven strategic decisions

For Surat City, the AFCS improvements accelerated a shift toward using public transport more and private vehicles less. This has helped reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. In addition, the new AFCS cuts paper ticket use, aiding Surat's environment. It also brought increased economic benefits in terms of business opportunities surrounding public transportation. 

As a testament to this achievement, in 2022 NEC Corporation India received a coveted India Smart Cities Award for helping transform public transportation in Surat. 

"The AFCS implemented in Surat is a SMART solution that aligns perfectly with our city's vision for SMART public transportation. NEC has not only set up the system but has also exhibited unparalleled dedication in its operations and maintenance over the past seven years," said Kamlesh Naik, General Manager and Managing Director of Surat Sitilink Limited. "NEC's innovative approach has ushered in the digitization of fare collection and revenue generation, bringing technological advancements to our public transport system."

To learn more about how NEC's smart mobility solutions can transform your network, visit this page [Smart Transportation: Products & Solutions]. 
*The site is currently being renewed and will be available in mid-March.

(MAR 13, 2024)