Most attempts by the Central Railway (CR) to reduce serpentine queues at ticket windows have fallen flat. But, if recent figures are anything to go by, the Jansadharan Ticket Booking Sevaks (JTBS) scheme introduced by the Ministry of Railways in 2008 appears to be a huge success with commuters.
Launched in 2008, the scheme allows commuters to purchase tickets from the next-door general store, photocopy outlets and even medical shops, in an attempt to reduce congestion at ticket counters at railway stations.
Recent figures show that more than 78,000 commuters have bought tickets using the JTBS scheme in the month of January 2013. This is a good eight per cent of the total ticket sales of the month. Earlier, the rate of ticket purchase from these centres was a mere one per cent.
Every day, the CR sells around 9.13 lakh tickets on the suburban line, of which 5.75 lakh tickets are sold at Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) counters, 1.14 lakh from coupon vending machines (CVMs) and 1.46 lakh using the automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs).
“Approximately, a year ago, the number of people who would use the JTBS counters was a mere one per cent,” said an official from the CR. Owing to the rise in purchases, the revenue generated at these counters has also increased from Rs 1.03 crore in April 2012 to Rs 4.07 crore in January 2013.
Currently, there are 121 JTBS counters on the suburban section, mainly on the main line from CST to Kasara/Karjat and CST to Panvel on the Harbour line. The authorities have also allotted 85 JTBS counters at various shops. In addition, 537, stores have applied for the JTBS scheme.
Surprisingly, the top five JTBS counters are at Kurla, Govandi, Kalyan, Thane and Mumbra. Explaining this, a CR official said, “Ticket counters at Kurla, Thane and Kalyan are always crowded, while at stations like Govandi and Mumbra, there are insufficient ticket counters.
What is the JTBS scheme?
Announced in the 2006-07 budget by then railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, the basic idea of the scheme was to end long queues at the railway stations. Under the scheme, the CR was to appoint people and set up agencies under the Jansadharan Ticket Booking scheme to sell tickets. The person would not be a railways employee, but would be appointed on a two-year contract. Those appointed were required to meet all the terms and conditions set by the Railways and his premises must be easily accessible to people. So, even your neighbourhood grocery store can sell tickets if the owner opts for the scheme.
The number of ticket counters on the suburban section of the CR line
Number of tickets that CR sells everyday