Friday, March 31

Kolkata Metro app in offing to cut down on counter queues

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After Saturday’s accident at the Park Street station, Metro Railway will try and expedite its plan to introduce a smartphone-based ticketing app that will allow people to book tickets without standing in queues at counters. Though the Metro keeps all ticket counters open during peak hours, passengers have to spend several minutes in queues before they can make their way to the platforms. Some passengers have said that these few minutes are crucial in determining whether they can catch a certain train or have to wait for the next.

“There have been times when I reached the counter with four-five minutes to spare. It took nearly three minutes for me to buy a token. The train was entering the platform by the time I reached the stairs. By the time I rushed down and made my way through the crowd of people who had got off, the doors were closing. I do not support forcible opening of doors but a mobile-based ticketing app will certainly make things easier,” said Manas Chowdhury, a student.

Indian Railways has already introduced app-based ticketing for suburban trains. The process to develop an app for Metro Railway is also under way. The system for the Metro is more complicated and taking some time though trials have been conducted, an official explained. Once the app is launched, all a passenger needs to do is download it on his phone and maintain an e-wallet. When in the vicinity of a station, he can just click the destination and the fare will get deducted from the e-wallet. A QR code will appear on his screen that he can flash at the smart gate and take a ride.

The app for suburban tickets is similar. The only difference is that instead of a QR code, a ticket gets displayed on the screen that a passenger can show to a ticket checker if challenged.

“We are trying to make the ticketing process easier. Under the ministry’s guidelines, we have increased the number of counters to keep queues shorter. We also encourage people, even those who don’t use the Metro regularly, to purchase smart cards as they are more convenient. We also tried to introduce a system in which certain banks would issue debit cards that could be used as Metro smart cards. However, this didn’t work out. Now, the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) is working on the app. It’s more complicated than the suburban ticketing app as the smart gates will also have to undergo a software change to read the QR codes. There is no system of manual checking in the Metro,” an official said.

With the city’s Metro network set to expand in the next few years, this system will be of great assistance to passengers, the official agreed.

Source: Times of India

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