At a time when passengers are struggling to find a foothold in city buses even for a short while, spare a thought for the bus conductors with their paraphernalia of ticket tray of different denominations and cash bag.
The APSRTC appears to be oblivious to the advent of electronic Ticket Issuing Machines (TIM), smart cards and other latest available technologies and continue to implement the old system of issuing tickets manually in city buses. There are about 3,600 city buses and a whopping 30 lakh tickets are issued by the conductors every day.
While passengers find it problematic to hold the tiny tickets, it is even more challenging for the conductors as they need to issue the correct number of tickets.
More so, conductors need to update the ticket sales at every fare stage in the Statistical Ticket Accountable and Record (STAR) document.
All this activity has to be done amid the jostling of passengers on board the buses which are usually packed to the brim.
Everyday, the conductor arrives at the assigned bus depot at least 20 minutes in advance to collect the ticket tray.
Depending on the bus category, a tray consists of 13 different ticket denominations. Conductors are given tickets in blocks and each block has 100 tickets.
Before commencing their duties, they need to check the opening ticket readings and enter the same in computers. While on duty, apart from issuing correct tickets to passengers, they also need to check passes and alert passengers about bus halting points.
“Though we have got used to the system, it is very challenging to issue the correct tickets and tender exact change. The big thing is updating the ticket sales in the STAR document at every stage,” says a conductor.
Conductors face these hardships for over seven hours of their duty. And it does not end with that. Even after work, they need to submit the STAR document, money collected for the day, closing ticket readings and get the ticket sales verified with Assistant Depot Clerks' at the depots. All this process takes about 20 minutes.
“In case if there is any difference in ticket sales or money collected, conductor has to bear the loss. It is time authorities adopt new technology,” says RTC Employees Union zonal president R. Yadaiah.
It's not just about the time consumed or the woes of conductors, if TIMs are introduced, it would help the RTC in many ways.
Conductors do not have to carry the ticket tray, update ticket sales in the STAR document and more importantly, calculate the sales. Once plugged in, TIMs would disclose all details and make life easy for conductors, he says.
This apart, lot of money and paper can be saved. RTC spends about Rs.15 to print 1,000 tickets.
The advantage with TIMs is that only one ticket needs to be issued to a group of passengers unlike the present system, where the conductors have to issue individual tickets to each passenger.