The ‘UTS on Mobile’ app unveiled by the Railways to encourage digital payments has now started to evince a good response after encountering starting problems. Classified under mobile ticketing, commuters can book single journey tickets and season tickets on the UTS mobile application.
KOCHI: The ‘UTS on mobile’ app unveiled by the Railways to encourage digital payments has now started to evince a good response after encountering starting problems. According to a Railway officer, the app has become a hit with commuters. The railways has recorded a 300 per cent increase in the number of mobile tickets sold in June 2018 as compared to April 2017. The popularity of the app among commuters and improvement in its features to make it more user-friendly are behind its success.
Classified under mobile ticketing, commuters can book single journey tickets and season tickets on the UTS mobile application. A commuter is required to be in proximity of less than 2 km from the station while booking a single journey ticket through the application.
According to official records, while the Central Railway (CR) registered a 175 per cent increase in the number of mobile tickets sold in June 2018 as compared to April 2017, the Western Railway (WR) recorded a 300 per cent increase in the number of mobile tickets sold in the same period. The downloads in the Thiruvananthapuram Division has crossed 80,000. The revenue from the ‘UTS on mobile’ tickets is Rs 41,000 per day and on an average, around 7,800 use the Rwallet.
Launched in 2016, the app received a poor response initially after commuters complained about being unable to book tickets on the app despite being close to a railway station. In the past two years, the railways has corrected these glitches to make the application user-friendly. “Certain minor changes were introduced to help the passenger book the ticket in an efficient way. For example, we reduced the number of tabs to reduce time taken to book mobile tickets. We also rectified various technical errors in the application,” said a railway official.
As compared to other modes of ticketing, mobile ticketing still contributes to less than 2 per cent of the suburban ticket booking. The railways has held many workshops and seminars to increase the use of mobile app for booking tickets.
This has been a major turnaround in the app’s fortunes since, despite the hype, the users had initially encountered several difficulties and didn’t find it a hassle-free method to secure a ticket. However, a Railway officer said those were the initial glitches. “Many problems pointed out by the users have been solved. We are working to resolve the remaining issues,” he said, shrugging it off as routine for anything recently-launched.
Some of the problems faced by the users were the inability to log in, the time taken by the app to load and confusion over what will happen if the mobile’s battery charge runs out while the user is on the move.
According to the Railways’ customer care officer in Chennai, the user will need a high-speed Internet connection like 4G for the UTS app to function effectively. “The Railway server goes at a top speed, so if the user has a low-speed connection like 2G or 3G, they will find it difficult to log in. The user will have to upgrade their connection,” he said. Also, to book a ticket, the user will have to be within a five-km radius of the station.
But what if the mobile switches off mid-journey? The only solution is to ensure your phone has enough battery charge left, said the Railway officer. “Earlier , the Railways was quite lenient and considerate. But after numerous incidents of ticketless travel under the pretext of phones switching off mid-journey came to fore, the Railways decided to take stringent action,” said the officer.
However, if a user’s phone gets misplaced or lost, they can buy a new SIM and contact the Railways to get their ticket forwarded to the new mobile. “But all this have to be done before boarding the train,” he said.
He said, “A system where the TTR can enter the mobile phone number of the passenger into his tab to retrieve the ticket is on the anvil. All the passengers will have to do is give his phone number and present a valid ID card.”
However, officials said they have registered a specific growth in the number of season tickets booked through the application. “We have registered a decent increase in the number of season tickets booked through the application. As compared to 6,417 season tickets booked in April last year, 25,198 were booked in June 2018. Commuters can book their monthly and quarterly passes through the application,” said an official from WR.