TIRUPATI: South Central Railway’s (SCR) effort to reduce counter sales through a mobile application called ‘Paperless UTS Mobile Ticketing’, for booking general tickets for travel seems to have taken off on a wrong note.
While there is a need to spread awareness on the system that came into use from Monday, no adequate initiatives were taken by the authorities resulting in very poor response from the passengers for the new system.
When contacted, several passengers who were purchasing tickets at the counters in Tirupati Railway station on Monday, it was amply clear that they do not know of the new app and were also not interested in such an app as it involves online transactions and a smart phone.
When any new system or facility is introduced for the benefit of people, it requires widespread publicity to create awareness. In the case of mobile app for unreserved train ticket there was no such publicity anywhere.
No flexi was provided at important centres to make people know the new feature. Being a multi lingual centre, there is every need to provide information boards in various languages to facilitate passengers read and take note of the new feature.
Though, railways has opened one help desk which will work for 48 hours to explain the passengers the usage of mobile app, nobody was going there to seek any information. There was no indication that it was ‘Help Desk’.
Secondly, there was only one board displaying the features of mobile app and that too in English where as in general several buyers of unreserved train ticket are uneducated and from rural areas who cannot read English.
Further, being a multi lingual centre people from several states visit Tirupati and yet there was no information was provided in Telugu, Hindi and Tamil at least. Passengers can book journey ticket only if they are within five kilometre radius of the station and 25 metre away from track and a platform ticket can be booked within two km radius of the station, which indicates that no ticket can be booked through the new app at the station.
Hence, publicity posters should be placed at every important place both in Tirupati and in Tirumala so that people can book ticket while they are nearing station itself and can avoid standing in queue lines at counters.
In the absence of such steps, most of the people have no idea of the new facility. As many of the rural passengers and common pilgrims were having basic phones, they cannot make online transactions and also they do not have proper understanding of the procedure which can be evident from the fact that online payments for various purchases were very poor even after demonetisation.
A passenger who was in a hurry for buying ticket at the counter said he has no mobile at all and it was easy to buy ticket in the counter than using the app. Station manager M Subodh Mithra, however, maintained that those who cannot make online transactions were being diverted to use ‘Automatic Ticket Vending Machine’ (ATVM) placed at the counters. In any case, awareness has to be generated and steps are being taken for that, he admitted.