Glitch forces Metro to ride back in time

For a brief period on Saturday, it felt like the Y2K bug had struck all over again. The time set on the Chennai Metro server went back 19 years and was reset to the year 2000, resulting in technical glitches and passengers getting free rides.

Chennai Metro has a “master clock” server which provides time-related information to other systems like the Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gates that check passengers’ smart cards and let them onto platforms. If the clock malfunctions, and the right time is not set, AFC gates will not let passengers enter or exit the station, sources said.

Around 6 a.m. on Saturday, due to an error, the clock was automatically set to the year 2000, and the gates did not let passengers enter or exit. “Each smart card contains information like the balance amount, the stations travelled to, the date of purchase and expiry. Since the clock went back to the year 2000, AFC gates did not allow passengers, as they do not accept a card with a future date of purchase, and the machine thought 2019 was the future,” an official said.

As soon as this happened, the staff also went back in time and began issuing paper tickets to passengers. “But in some time, this too was stopped and we decided to let passengers travel for free. The issue was resolved around 10.30 a.m.,” said another official. In a statement, Chennai Metro said: “The automatic fare collection system malfunction has been rectified. During the time, passengers were allowed to utilise the Metro services without tokens and smart cards.”

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