Even as the railways plan the speedy implementation of its mobile ticketing infrastructure across suburban stations, commuter activists and transport experts complained that the compulsion of carrying a printed ticket was defeating the purpose of the mobile system.
The much awaited mobile ticketing system was commissioned for suburban trains on Saturday. But while 46 passengers had booked tickets on their phones then, only seven participated in the process on Monday, the first work day since the launch.
Only two commuters on Central Railway (CR) and five on Western Railway (WR) booked tickets on the new system.
“Despite the mobile ticketing system, commuters are getting no respite from long queues (for print outs). If long distance trains allow SMS validation, why not suburban trains?” said commuter activist Aniket Ghamandi.
“Seats are reserved on long distance trains. If two people claim the same berth, it can be verified easily, but for unreserved train journeys, there is no method to check the authenticity of the passengers. People can easily forward SMSes to each other,” said railway official on condition of anonymity.
There have also been complaints that the minimum denomination needed to activate the railway e-wallet software was Rs100.
While suburban tickets can be booked using the railway-wallet with a mobile phone, commuters are expected to collect a printed ticket from automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) installed at select stations.
In three days, more than 5,000 people had downloaded the mobile app, but the cumbersome process before the start of the journey appears to have put off passengers.
“Why would I book tickets on the mobile phone if I still have to visit the ticketing counter for everything? I might as well go get myself a regular ticket from the counter or through an ATVM,” said Rajeshri Pradhan, an engineering student from Andheri.
Currently, the mobile ticketing system is available only at Dadar station, but authorities said it will be commissioned for other stations including CST, Thane, Churchgate, Borivli and others by the weekend.