Technophile

The Unusable Ticketing System?

R Dinakaran | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on July 20, 2016

UTS_app.jpg

The Railways UTS app is riddled with inane bureacratic hurdles

The Indian Railways has been actively promoting its UTS (Unreserved Ticketing System) app lately. Primarily intended to serve passengers who patronise the suburban rail services in major metropolitan cities, the app allows users to book unreserved local and suburban tickets, platform tickets and even season tickets. It maintains a wallet into which money can be loaded and provides a booking history as well.

Despite being around for quite some time the app has not received much traction and it is not hard to understand why considering the philopsphy behind its development appears to have 'made by Government' written all over it.

Location troubles

Though it is supposed to make train ticketing easy, it doesn't do so all the time. For example, the app uses GPS tracking to block the booking of tickets when the user is close to a platform. Users need to be at a considerable distance from a station in order to book a ticket. Passengers who are rushing to catch a train and trying to book a ticket on the go or even attempting to buy a platform ticket after arriving at the station are simply out of luck it seems. It almost seems as though the app has been designed to enoucrage passengers to visit the physical booking counter.

Another hurdle which the Indian Railways has deemed necessary is a policy restricting users from using the app on multiple devices. So if you've decided to change phones for some reason, you will have to go to the UTS app website (http://utsonmobile.indianrail.gov.in) and request Indian Railways' approval to switch the app to your new device.

Now, what happens if you have to change the mobile again? Well, that simply isn't possible. Not so soon anyway. A second handset change request within a short period will result in a notice requesting you to wait three months for processing. Any existing purchases made on the old device, such as a season ticket, will only be valid on the old device.

Endless paperwork

If that seems like bureacratic excess to you, we regret to inform you that it gets worse. In case of loss or theft of a smartphone registered on the UTS app, users are required to lodge a complaint at a police station and take the FIR copy to the Chief Commercial Manager (CCM) in order to apply for a transfer to a new device. What if the mobile is faulty? Go to a service centre, give the mobile for servicing, and give the service centre receipt to the CCM.

If the mobile is damaged beyond repair? Provide proof of the unusable mobile to the CCM and get his approval to change the handset.

Unfortunately for unsuspecting users, none of this information is provided prior to signup. In fact it isn't available anywhere in the app or even on the website. The helpline number appears to be the only source of solace.

The app, which has been designed and built by the Centre for Railway Information Systems, is a perfect example of a government agency attempting to adapt the rubber-stamp mentality to the digital age and failing.

If the Railways intends for its digital push to achieve any kind of success, it will need to prioritise its users over procedure.

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Published on July 20, 2016
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