Rail takes BEST route to cut ticket counter queues

To reduce queues at booking counters, Western Railway (WR) will soon introduce portable ticket vending machines. The devices will be similar to those used by BEST bus conductors.

As a pilot project, the machines will be tried out at Virar, Nallasopara, Elphinstone Road and Churchgate stations, with five units for each station.

The project will be implemented in collaboration with Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which will extend technical and financial assistance, said a senior WR official. “The machines will be used to give single-destination tickets to commuters. We believed the technology is fast as well as reliable. The devices can be easily connected via a Wi-Fi network to the unreserved ticketing system (UTS), which will help prevent fraudulent transactions.”

Earlier efforts to reduce queues included the introduction of coupon validating machines (CVMs) and smartcard-operated automated ticket vending machines (ATVMs). The official said ATVMs account for only 5.3% of the total card ticket traffic per day. And though CVMs’ share is almost four times that, the queues at booking offices have shown no signs of shortening.

At Rs 25,000 each, the portable machines will be a lot cheaper than ATVMs (Rs1-1.5 lakh each). “Also, since they will be staff-operated, their failure rate will be much less than that of CVMs or ATVMs, which are commuter-operated,” the official said. “People who are not well-versed with information technology find it difficult to use ATVMs. Moreover, the time spend to select the right option is greater because the user is expected to click buttons more than twice to get a ticket.”

WR plans to introduce the portable machines at stations were the demand for tickets has gone up significantly in recent years, said an official of the commercial department of WR’s Mumbai division. Booking offices continue to sell 5.48 lakh card tickets a day, compared to 2,171 CVM booklets (19% of tickets) and 36,764 ATVM tickets (5.3%). Once portable ticket vending machines are introduced, the booking office load will be expected to go down substantially. The official said, “We will soon have a preliminary round of discussion with MRVC officials.”

Season ticket holders | 24.93 lakh Card ticket holders | 10.53 lakh Total | 35.46 lakh
Booking offi ces | 87 Booking counters | 334 (up to Dahanu Road)
Card tickets issued per day | 5.48 lakh Season tickets issued per day | 40,175 Card tickets sold at booking counters | 75%

No of ATVMs | 185
Daily ticket sale | 36,764
Daily smart card sale | 500
Passengers who use ATVMs per day | 57,581
Tickets sold through ATVMs | 5.3%

CVM booklets sold per day | 2,171
Passengers who use CVMs per day | 1.9 lakh
Tickets sold through CVMs | 19%



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