Tired of standing in serpentine queues and arguing with apathetic ticket clerks, Western Railway (WR) commuters are now rooting for a mobile ticketing system.
They also want the automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) installed at railway platforms to be much more user-friendly.
These are the findings of a preliminary survey conducted by the Western Railway and Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) in April.
The survey had a sample group of 141 people and classified commuters into three age brackets; 15-30 years, 30-50 years and above 50 years.
As per survey findings, around 74% respondents are unsatisfied with the current ticketing system, citing long queues and rude staff behaviour as the main reasons.
Around 90% of respondents want the WR to introduce a mobile ticketing system whereby local train tickets can be purchased by sending an SMS to a given number. The idea of a mobile ticketing system received the most enthusiastic response from respondents in the 30-50 years age group, with 97% approving of it.
In the age group of 15-30 years, 95% respondents approved of the idea. In the 50 plus category, only 46% respondents were keen on the system.
“This survey has given us a fair idea of commuter needs. Based on the findings, we will undertake extensive research on mobile ticketing technology,” said a senior WR official on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
However, if introduced, the the railway will have to create a platform for mobile payments that is accessible by all users.
Another issue is that all mobile phones will have to be Java-enabled. The survey also highlights the need for a simpler ATVM system. As per survey findings, while 86% respondents were aware of the existence of ATVMs, 49% of them found them difficult to use.
“At least 88% respondents want the WR to create pamphlets with specific instructions on using these machines. We are working in that direction,” said another Western Railway official.
The Western Railway is also in the process of procuring more ATVMs. “We are procuring around 84 ATVMs at the moment. Seventy more machines are in the process of being procured,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway.