Coming soon: Mumbai train commuters can book a season pass on their smart phone

The idea of getting a suburban train ticket without standing in queue, at the ticket counter or the automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs), became a reality in July when the Railways started paperless ticketing on mobile phones. But it does not appear to have enthused Mumbaikars, and so the Railways are making yet another attempt to interest them by introducing the option of buying season passes through mobile ticketing.

Suresh Prabhu
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurates the mobile ticketing system at Dadar in 2014. It did not pick up, so the Railways are introducing season pass on mobile ticketing, to interest commuters.

The Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) — the software coding agency of the Indian Railways — has prepared the mobile ticketing system and is likely to start it from October 7. “We are ready with introducing the season passes and platform ticket options in the mobile ticket app,” confirmed Uday Bobhate, General Manager, CRIS.

According to officials, season passes are bought by nearly 65 percent of the total commuter base of 75 lakh people travelling on the suburban system. The option of skipping the queue while buying monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly passes will now be available on smart phones, which might lure more people into using them.

As per process, the option will be provided on the first page after opening the UTS app. A commuter can book a season pass at least 10 days before the existing pass expires. “An option of selecting a date after the validity of the earlier season pass will also be provided,” said a railway official.

The money will be deducted from the R-wallet that will be created by the user. A separate file will be created within the UTS app where this season pass will be stored. If a ticket collector asks the commuter to present his ticket, he or she will only have to flash this ticket on their phone. The officials said that no changes could be made after booking so as to keep it tamper free.

The paperless mobile ticket option on UTSonMobile app was inaugurated in July by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. It works on Android and Windows phones and was initially launched for Western Railway commuters. This gave commuters the option of not taking printouts. With the season pass option coming in, mobile ticketing — for daily and season pass — will also be extended to Central Railway as well, thus helping all 75-lakh daily commuters.

Mobile ticketing a flop
Presently mobile ticketing has not been a hit with Mumbaikars. Recently GC Agarwal, General Manager of Western Railway had said, “Mobile ticketing has not picked up as expected and barely 1,000-odd tickets are sold every day”.

The figures too, show that from July to September the WR authorities have sold 30,965 paperless tickets, which have fetched them a mere R4.88 lakh. Mobile ticketing was first introduced in late December 2014 wherein people were allowed to book tickets from their cell phones, but then they had to take printouts from ATVM machines. From December onwards, the railways have sold 91,302 tickets — from mobile ticketing where printouts of these tickets were taken from ATVMs — that fetched them Rs 14.58 lakh.

Sources said that some of the possible reasons for mobile ticketing’s poor performance could be the transactional surcharge of Rs 10. This is charged to all commuters who want to recharge their e-wallet, apart from the service charge. The Railways have already written letters to the Ministry of Finance asking them to waive off this surcharge as they are running a public transport.

How to use it
1. Download and install UTS app on your smart phone
2. First-time users need to sign up
3. Select the city as Mumbai
4. Use normal/quick booking as per choice given in the app window
5. Purchase tickets using R-wallet
6. R-wallet can be recharged on www.utson mobile.indianrail.gov.in or at any suburban ticket window (recharge can be minimum R100 and maximum R5,000)
7. Same e-wallet can be used to book the season pass and platform ticket

How mobile ticketing works
>> The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has mapped the entire route from Churchgate to Dahanu by satellite.
>> One can book a ticket on one’s mobile phone if one is 30 metres away from the outer tracks, up to a maximum of 2 kilometres.
>> A ticket booked using the app has a distinct colour code for each day and an embedded Quick Response (QR) code that cannot be forwarded to another mobile, nor edited.

Voices

M Ranade, Media person
I think the mobile ticketing scheme is a good thing as I don’t need to stand in queues. If season passes are introduced, then there is no need to worry about forgetting a pass at home and it will be convenient too.

A Tripathi, student
Mobile ticketing is very convenient, especially when I need to rush for my classes or any exams. I need not waste time standing in queue. It is surprising that people aren’t using it and railways need to advertise this scheme more.

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