The State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is preparing to introduce electronic ticket machines in boats within two months.

Shaji V.Nair, director, SWTD, told The Hindu that the department had purchased 80 electronic ticket machines. He said the department's 14 station offices were being computerised. K.T. Antony, traffic superintendent at the Department's Directorate here, said the machines had been used on test basis on the Alappuzha-Krishnapuram route . “We will rectify the mistakes and roll out the machines across the State within two months or even earlier. We will also use the ticket racks, now being used as a standby,” he said.

The department, which operates services in six districts, has 14 operating stations. It will press into service nearly 50 machines — one machine each for its 50 schedules. The remaining 30 machines have been bought as spares. The machine costs Rs.6,000 and the total cost is Rs.4.8 lakh in addition to Rs.5 lakh as computer. Sources said the department incurred an expenditure of Rs.15 lakh a year on printing tickets now.

Work on installing the software is progressing. The first round of training for 160 conductors (boat masters) and station masters and checkers has been completed. The department has taken a cue from the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which introduced the same years ago. “Gangadharan Pillai, former employee of the KSRTC, has helped us a lot and is still our consultant,” Mr. Antony said.

Mr. Antony said the machine can issue more than 1,200 tickets using a single roll of paper. “It is less heavier than ticket racks,” he said. The machine weighs 700 gm while the ticket rack is over 1 kg.

The machine will also help the boat master in preparing journey bill (how many passengers alighted\entered the boat from a point, etc.) and other reports at the click of a button.

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