Facilitators played key role in increasing ATVMs’ share in ticketing
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Even as the share of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) in overall ticketing has increased by a mere five per cent in 2011 to 27 per cent in 2013, data shows that the Central Railway's (CR) indigenous scheme of facilitators, and not smart cards, led to the increase.
In 2011, CR revived its scheme of deploying railway men at ATVMs with a two-point agenda; have a live demo for non-smart card users and reduce the load on booking windows by directing commuter traffic to ATVMs.
Since then, the share of facilitators in sale of tickets from ATVMs has grown from 23 per cent in 2011 to 45 per cent in 2013. While a yearly figure averages out the performance of facilitators that could be affected by number of facilitators as well as machines, a month-on-month comparison shows even more astounding rise.
In November 2011, the share of facilitators to ATVM ticket sale was 24 per cent. This increased to 81 per cent in November 2013, indicating that more than half of the tickets are sold to non-smart card users.
Senior railway officials say although ATVMs are supposed to be automatic ticket machines, a large section of commuters who belong to lower-income group are apprehensive about blocking money in a card as well as using a machine.
"We even had a five-step instruction put up on each ATVM to help first-time users purchase tickets, but many seem apprehensive. Unfortunately, owing to lack of machines initially, the ones installed at a station required repeated maintenance. A shut down machine further dissuaded commuters from purchasing smart cards. We wanted to change this perception," said a senior railway official who did not wish to be named.
Since 2011, there has been a 118 per cent increase in the number of ATVMs on CR. In 2011, there were 175 machines that grew to 250 in 2012 and 382 in 2013. Another batch of 288 machines is expected to arrive by March 2014, taking the total to 670.