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Saturday , 20 April 2024

AWATAR: Booking Tickets online and through mobiles

To cater to the needs of the next generation of patrons, AWATAR offers booking of passenger tickets through mobile phone enabled with GPRS connection. To book tickets through mobile phones (m-booking) passengers can access the URL http://www.ksrtc.in/mobile or http://m.ksrtc and book bus tickets within a minute. For m-booking passengers, m-ticket is allowed for travelling, there is no need for physical tickets. Using a GPS system integrated with it, AWATAR is able to notify in real-time the arrival and departure of buses. Travel agents, franchisees can access the PRS system for any required information and reservation purposes. Commission to be given to the agents and franchisees is calculated in real-time without having to shut down and recompile the application. A centralised control room has been established to assist the operators/franchisees/e-booking users whenever they face any problem in booking or cancellation. With AWATAR, private bus operators are able to view data such as seat availability and luggage bookings. These operators can allot, modify and cancel bookings based on special privileges provided by the KSRTC.

Since the application is integrated with the KSRTC accounting, ticket inventory and ticketing subsystems, it is able to generate an MIS report giving information such as bus schedules and passenger loads. These reports are useful for KSRTC officers and clerks at bus stations and depots. It also consolidates financial transactions on a daily basis and provides appropriate interfaces to the finance and accounting sub-systems and the Depot Accounting system. Notifications about status of buses and reservations are displayed – such as arrival and departure status of buses and waitlisted and cancelled seats. These notifications are also delivered to e-mail ids, mobile phones and PDAs of registered users, as well as to franchisees, KSRTC Call Centres and the IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System). Commuters can opt for complete or partial cancellation of joint tickets. They can also do a total or partial modification of journey details such as passenger details and postpone or advance their trips, after paying applicable charges.

Passengers can now book a ticket online, 30 days in advance, including return journey tickets from selected destination by using credit and debit cards. Account holders of SBI can buy e-tickets through Direct Debit which is the first of its kind amongst the State Transport Undertakings in India.

The system conforms to the data standards relating to Data Standard definitions and information accessibility framework. The Disaster Recovery solution for AWATAR has been set up as a passive hot standby site at Hyderabad which is at a considerable distance from the current production site. This increases the reliability of the system.

Benefits

AWATAR has benefited both KSRTC and commuters. For commuters, it has facilitated convenient, fast, timely, anywhere and anytime reservation and an electronic channel for all related information and services, without wasting their time, money and resources. Passengers can now book a ticket online, 30 days in advance, including return journey tickets from selected destination by using credit and debit cards. Account holders of SBI can buy e-tickets through Direct Debit which is the first of its kind amongst the State Transport Undertakings in India. Students, women and children are offered special privileges in terms of seating, ticket pricing and issue of season tickets. Others who have been offered such privileges include police and KSRTC personnel, senior citizens, physically challenged individuals and any other group decided by KSRTC. Corporate customers can hire buses on a monthly basis or for any other duration. For KSRTC, AWATAR has improved efficiency, accountability, transparency and responsiveness and enabled it to become more service oriented. Revenue collection has increased due to cost-effectiveness in collection.

The corporation now has a real-time centralised database for the reservation system. AWATAR has enabled KSRTC to become the first public road transport ticket reservation portal in the country which, in turn, has helped branding and promotion of the corporation’s services. AWATAR has brought in considerable revenue from advertisements on the KSRTC portal and pre-printed tickets (with advertisements printed on the backside). Another source of revenue has been through hotels booked through AWATAR. It is an economically viable, scalable, high-traffic system that is sustainable and can be replicated across varied locations. Due to the fact that it has been built on a model that is independent of traffic, geographic location or the computer literacy of users, this online reservation platform has guaranteed affordability, reliability and long-term value for citizens.

The number of passengers availing this facility is increasing gradually. Of the 618 reservation counters, 530 counters are operated by private franchisees and 88 by KSRTC. There were only about 80 counters at the inception of the system in 2006. KSRTC is also planning to add 100 more counters to cope with the rising demand. Unemployed graduates would be given preference while appointing the KSRTC franchisees. 10% of franchisee appointments are reserved for physically challenged persons. The AWATAR system has recorded reservation revenue of 70 lakhs per day.

Other state transport undertakings, notably Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, are in the process of implementing projects similar to AWATAR. With the enormous success and popularity of the application, KSRTC plans to implement an improved version of the application, AWATAR 2.0, which will again be scalable to accommodate future operations. It is proposed to increase the number of concurrent users in the new version from the present 500 to 5000. The number of franchisees for booking seats will also be increased. The improved version will also have an Advanced Disaster Recovery Facility and Advanced MIS Reports options.

Dr Ingalagi
Chief Manager
Management Information
Systems (MIS)
Bangalore Metropolitan
Transport Corporation
(The author acknowledges the contribution of M R Sreenivasamurthy, Managing Director (Retd), KSRTC — AWATAR was his brainchild, and Gaurav Gupta, former Managing Director, KSRTC, who scaled up AWATAR to offer mobile phone booking services. Also, the efforts of the franchisees and officers of the traffic and accounts departments of KSRTC are gratefully acknowledged by him).

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