Friday, August 22, 2008

Technology - The ticket to better lifestyle

Technology has helped ease lives of many in India. The fact is more evident in India where the masses have adopted to technology late and seen drastic improvements in their lifestyle. Be it the adoption of the mobile by Indians, the acceptance of online railway booking system or the flex board in lieu of the hand painted banners. The examples are numerous.

One of my favorite examples has been the digital ticket vending hand units that all bus conductors in Karnataka State owned transport unit (KSRTC - Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) use to dispense tickets. My generation has grown up seeing the conductors having a nightmarish time lugging the two sided tin box with tickets of various denominations, trying to disburse tickets to the passengers. A request for a ticket meant opening the tin box at least 2-3 times, tearing out the tickets of the right denominations from the wads so that they add up to the total fare and then punching a few holes through the whole lot at carefully chosen points. Each disbursement took close to 30 seconds on a average ( I speak of experienced conductors who knew the tin box ticket layout better than the back of their palm :-) ) If the buses were packed full with people hanging by the doors, the conductor's job would be totally a torture. The abuses from passengers who have had to bear the brunt of the job conscious conductor jostling his way through them, stamping a few feet, bruising a few elbows with his tin box and hurting a few egos. I remember many a time when the conductor had to request the driver to stop the bus mid way between the route so as to give him a chance to complete the ticketing process for all the passengers, some of whom would happen to be scheming on a ticketless travel.

Then came the new generation ticket dispenser hand held unit. The conductor presses two buttons indicating the passenger pickup and alighting points and Voila !!! A ticket mentioning the amount to be paid is printed in a jiffy on the machine. The passenger pays and the conductor moves on to the next passenger. Isn't that neat? No lugging around a 1-2 kg ticket box all around the bus. No mistakes in putting together tickets of different nominations together, no need of unwarranted stop requests by conductors.

Well, things have turned quite hunky dory for the KSRTC conductors. However as in any technology adoption, the wrinkles need to be ironed out. One such queer incident pointing this out happened the last time I took a bus from Bangalore to Davanagere. More on it in my next post...

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