While the Indian Railways tried to smarten up the ticketing system by introducing mobile phone ticketing and Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs), Western Railway passengers didn’t show much interest in the former but the latter is slowly catching on.

The time saving ATVMs are slowly catching on with Western Railway commuters. File PicThe time saving ATVMs are slowly catching on with Western Railway commuters. File Pic

According to comparative data released by WR authorities, the highest number of passengers, from Andheri, have shifted from the traditional tickets to time saving ATVMs and the mobile application, as earlier (April 2014-January 2015), the number of passengers using vending machines was 6,933, which touched 18,316 in April 2015-January 2016.

On the Churchgate-Dahanu route, the WR has recorded tremendous percentage of growth when it comes to usage of ATVMs at all stations. Also, they claim that the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro has been witnessing more footfalls from Andheri, as those who used to hop on to Central Railway trains have now shifted their loyalties to Metro.

Percentage growth
Percentage can be quite misleading and the best example of that is usage of ATVMs in Vangaon. The station has the highest percent growth — 2,085% — but the data reveals that the comparison is between last year’s one ATVM sale and this year’s 27.

But when we look at percentage rise in Nalasopara, the data doesn’t seem deceptive. The station has recorded 553% increase in ATVM ticket sale, in numbers — from 1,741 to 11,366. While all railway stations between Churchgate and Virar have seen over 100% increase in ATVM sales, only five stations on the Virar-Dahanu route have recorded between a 60-100% rise.

Mobile ticketing
Despite the high number of mobile users, the mobile ticket application is yet to catch on with commuters. In this category too, Andheri took the cake, followed by Borivli and Naigaon biting the dust at the bottom. “Despite our efforts the sale of tickets through mobile phones has been dismal,” said a WR official.

Season passes
Another shocking bit highlighted in the released data is that less and less number of people are opting for season passes and daily ticket sales have recorded a marginal increase. Only two WR stations—Virar and Nalasopara — have recorded a rise in renewal of season passes (be it monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly) with 2.34% and 4.18% growth respectively. However, officials claim that a hike in sale of tickets and passes is witnessed at stations towards the North.

“Normally people renew or buy season passes from where they live,” said a WR official. The authorities claim that even now the season passes are the most preferred, with over 65% commuters relying on them, and they are followed by card ticket sales at windows and then the ATVMs.