Commuters travelling by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking buses may soon expect to book tickets online and also track the arrival of buses through mobile applications. Aiming to make commuting easy and taking a lesson from the success of App-based taxi services, BEST is considering the introduction of such a mobile application that can be used by commuters. A presentation of two Apps — ‘Mobile bus ticketing’ and ‘Route tracker’ — was done at the BEST committee meeting on Thursday. While the first application will help commuters book tickets and renew passes online, the latter will inform them about the expected arrival of buses and tell them the nearest bus stops around their location.
“The Apps are meant to improve the experience of commuting for BEST commuters. The difference may help commuters of BEST moving to other modes of transport to remain with the services,” said Jagdish Patil, BEST General manager.
BEST has been incurring losses of up to Rs 900 crore over the past couple of years. A fall in the number of commuters and a dearth of innovative ways to increase revenue have been termed as the reasons.
“Commuters would not complain about a rift with the conductor over not getting coins in change. They will also happily wait for a BEST bus before hopping into a taxi or autorickshaw. The upcoming Apps will tell them about the arrival of buses and also about subsequent bus services if one is missed,” said Patil.
The App ‘Mobile bus ticketing’ has been developed by Trimax IT Infrastructure and Services Ltd. The functioning of the App allows commuters to book tickets after filling a minimum top up in their phones. “If implemented, this service would be cashless, but commuters can still avail a virtual ticket through online payment,” said an official spokesperson from Trimax.
Committee members however raised doubts over whether a contract could be given to Trimax, which provides BEST’s Electronic Ticket Issuing Machines (ETIMs).
“We have considered inviting other competitive bidders instead of Trimax for providing ETIMs. Though bringing
this technology at the earliest remains a need for BEST, giving a chance to Trimax again for
developing the technology will allow them to have complete control, which they can misuse,” said Shivaji Singh, committee member.
The second App, developed by a company Zop Hop, is meant to allow commuters to track buses and also get information of the nearest bus-stops around them for boarding the buses. By putting the present location and destination details, a commuter can expect the information of his options of buses, connecting buses, expected fares and next bus if one is missed.
“BEST should allow members to look at various other competitive bidders and their technology so that the best could be selected. Improvements remain to be implemented in the mobile ticketing application,” said Kedar Hombalkar, BEST committee member.
“More presentations will be seen before finalising upon one. We want the commuters to get the best of digital services for making their commute better,” added Patil.