This Saturday I traveled to Secunderabad in MMTS Local Train. One thing I observed is that there is a big queue before the ticket counter. These people try for tickets just minutes before the train arrives, and train stops less than a minute. Every one in the queue is taking in his/her mobile and buying ticket with other hand. So the information I collected is
– There is queue for tickets before every train arrival.
– Every passenger standing in the queue is having his/her mobile (more than 90%)
Looking at the above information an idea struck in my mind – Mobile Ticketing !
Its a simple process. Every passenger traveling from Point A to Point B, requests the ticket via a toll-free sms. Response for this sms is unique ticket number, which is generated and maintained in ticket server. Ticket Verifying Officer cross checks the ticket number using a simple hand-held device via a non interruptive connection like 3G. This hand-held is responsible to query the ticket number details supplied by traveler against the details in ticket server. Details is nothing but a physical ticket in a digital form. Once ticket is verified, hand-held is responsible to clear from database, hence making the ticket number a one-time-use. Every ticket is valid for a specific period, after which it is removed from ticket server automatically.
Coming to billing, cost of the ticket is reflected in the mobile bill of the passenger (postpaid/prepaid). If the passenger doest have enough balance to accommodate the ticket charge, ticket is not issued. Hence the ticket server is responsible for taking with the corresponding service provider and handle the billing process.
Essentially we are not doing any great break through, but just diverting and reducing the queue by allowing them to buy a ticket via sms. Remaining process is just same. When your turn comes, what if you dont have money to buy the ticket? Does the officer trade you with a ticket? Nope – thats what the system does. What happens to passengers who dont own a mobile? Simple, they buy ticket standing in (small)queue, since we already diverted the traffic to cell towers.
Also, traveler can buy ticket just before arriving to station, or after entering into the train. Every traveler is tracked with his/her mobile number, so suspicious activities are easily traced. Extensive publicity of sms formats in train stations/compartments will make this system work perfect.
Thats nice, but how do I make money? Simple – we inject ads in every ticket sms. These ads are local ads like ads relative to the locations of source/destination and normal ads.
Lets enjoy traveling, thanks to invention of mobile phone.