IRCTC, the Indian Railway’s organization responsible for online ticket booking among other things, has done a great job and has contributed immensely in making traveling a lot easier by successfully implementing online train reservations system.
One of the initiatives that IRCTC has taken up is discouraging printing of e-tickets. This is indeed a noble cause to save paper, ink and manpower. As soon as we give a command to print the e-ticket after booking it on IRCTC web site, it immediately informs us through a pop-up box that “You can travel by carrying the SMS sent by IRCTC or the PDF document (soft copy) of your e-ticket.”
But, one thing I have observed during my frequent rail travels. As soon as a Ticket Checker is shown a mobile or tablet for the SMS or soft copy of the e-ticket, he invariably asks for the identity card of the ticket holder. Even though carrying an original i-card is mandatory for e-tickets, many TCs generally don’t insist on checking the i-cards if we show them the printout of the e-ticket.
But, as soon as we show a digital form of e-ticket or SMS, they somehow feel the urge to surely check the i-card. I don’t see any reason for this behavior because carrying a printed ticket does not lend any more authenticity to the identity of the traveller than carrying its digital equivalent. I think it has become a habit, to see a ticket in paper form. When the equivalent of that ticket is shown in a tiny SMS, somehow some TCs get a cultural shock. Those who have not yet adjusted to this e-reality, still want to stick to ‘checking’ something tangible, if not a paper ticket, then at least a physical i-card. But they want to ‘check’ something for sure. They forget the perfect system of IRCTC, that the SMS is sent to the number which is specified while booking the ticket. It is almost foolproof.
But, some lesser enlightened ones among the TCs need technological upgrading of their knowledge and skills. They need to be trained to look the printed and digital forms of tickets at par. At present, due to their digital semi-literacy, they seem to doubt something in carrying SMS/soft copy of the ticket. This type of insistence disappoints the ticket holder and refutes the ideal purpose of discouraging the prints and saving some trees. A lofty organizational goal may get defeated in execution if we don’t communicate to the cultural habits of our employees.