HRTC 404: e-ticket not found

July 25th, 2007  |  Published in Tourism  |  11 Comments

On my journey to Delhi from Shimla on Sunday night (July 22) by the 10:15 PM HRTC Volvo, it was a revelation that not only are there few takers for the e-ticket booking system for HRTC (Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation) but there seems to be no synergy between the booking clerks at the ticket counter and the people who handle the online bookings.

As the bus rolled late night into Solan, a girl in her early twenties embarked the bus with an e-ticket. The conductor was clueless and said that he did not have the online voucher. The voucher he was presented by the booking clerk in Shimla had no mention about the e-ticket or the seat number (15, which was on her e-ticket). The girl was understandably angry and informed the conductor that the same thing had happened to her a few days ago. She had been allotted the seat number 11 through online booking (for Delhi-Shimla) but when she had reached the Delhi bus stand, the booking clerk had already allotted the seat to somebody else. They had no clue about the online booking.

The girl this time, understandably again, demanded to close down this facility if the HRTC could not coordinate. Luckily for the conductor, the seat (No. 15) was vacant and nobody was sitting there. He agreed to allow her to travel in the bus to Delhi, but with a fear that if any flying squad does a surprise checking ahead, he had no proof that there was any online sale of the ticket. The girl said, that she’ll deal with that and she has the proof – the e-ticket. The details too – the date and the timing – on the e-ticket were perfectly fine.

While HRTC claims to be handing out computerised tickets, I was also appalled to find that HRTC at its Inter-State Bus Terminus in Shimla does not have even a power back-up. When I had reached the bus-terminus at 9:30 PM, there was no electricity and the booking clerks were handing out tickets in candle light. The passengers were all over one another amidst the chaos to get their tickets. The booking clerks were found to be struggling to find out that they were handing out the tickets of the right denomination and at the same time receving the right amount. In fact, I was always myself scared lest somebody picks my pocket.

Now would computers work under this situation? I’m not sure but I presume that HRTC has outsourced its e-ticketing service to Shoghi Communications of himachalhotels.in. Now is it a lapse on their part or HRTC for the e-ticketing issue? But I’m sure, that if Shoghi Communications had forwarded the e-ticket details to HRTC, the booking clerks had no access to their computer due to power failure. They had no power back-up for their computers even, forget about the people bouncing into each other.

I had not done an advanced booking. The conductor told me the bus was totally full, but if there were any cancellations – it would be known to Mr Sood only in the Control Room on First Floor. I along with my friend struggled in darkness to the first floor. Mr Sood was helpless, saying, only the conductor knows. Finally, I had to keep chasing the conductor to shower his generosity on me for any vacant seat.

There were about 20 passengers at that point of time, vying for the three (last row) vacant seats and the two VIP seats (for which no booking is done). I could see the conductor helpless as each and everyone was trying to call up some bureaucrat or minister and handing over his cellphone to the conductor or driver. Well seat No.1 went to a favourite of Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhajji (the MLA from Shimla). I got seat No. 43 on the last row as I had just been following him everywhere. However, my back-problem (I had this Amaron Back-rest hanging along with my luggage) finally forced the conductor to allot me seat No 10 (the VIP seat). Thanks to him that he kept asking me through out the journey, if I was comfortable and my back did not have much of a problem.

Thankfully for the conductor too, there was no surprise checking as he had no proof to show that the girl was travelling legally. Though the girl claimed that it was legal and it was HRTC’s headache to find out. In fact her ticket showed the journey and fare for the Shimla to Delhi journey, even though she travelled from Solan itself. The conductor on his part had tried to call up the Shimla Booking Office from his cellphone, but there seemed to be nobody to pick up the phone.

I agree with the girl, that HRTC should close down its online e-ticketing facility if it cannot provide power back-up for its computers and cannot coordinate. The passengers would be pleased to face the trouble at the booking lines rather than get harassed mid-way in the middle of the night.

Is there somebody here listening?

Responses

  1. Jeewa Nand Joshi says:

    July 25th, 2007 at 8:02 PM (#)

    I don’t think that this facility should be close down rather this should be robust enough to cater more and more passenger who have no time to go to booking counter for ticket, ya I do agree that initially there may be some lacunas in the system but with the passage of time it will improve, I had also experienced, this problem some time ago when conductor refused to recognise such e-ticket, as he was very adament, may be due to his lack of knowlege regarding e-tickets. But I really appreciate such initiative from the Govt to make our Himachal ahead of all states.We have to bear some hardships before gaining the full adventage of the system.

  2. Ashwani Thakur says:

    July 26th, 2007 at 8:09 AM (#)

    It’s not only in the case of e-tickets (though I never booked any) HRTC seems to be unwilling to “change” at all the fronts i.e seats quality, the cleanliness, time table. The on-line reservation is a good and very important service offered to masses but with out any proper coordination. People prefer Haryana Roadways because of their adherence to time table, comfortability and most important the seats quality the HR buses are more spacious than the HRTC one. The majority of himachalis cannot afford to travel in Volvo buses more over they are plying on selected routes only. The ordinary HRTC services does not seem to be heading towards “drastic change” and seems lazy in providing quality service in comparison to HR buses.

  3. NITYIN says:

    July 26th, 2007 at 9:16 AM (#)

    Chipping in from Delhi. Travelled to Delhi by the 11 am VOLVO from Shimla and reached Delhi at 8.30 pm at Himachal Bhawan on Sunday.

    Now My observation of the journey.

    Had requested for seat no. 1 as am a 6 footer and the front seats have ample leg room space, while making the reservations.
    Prompt came the reply, ” 1 aur 2 number to MLA ke liye reserve hain! Buzz off you lambu The netas are damn important for us then you bloody
    janta class types!!

    Fine, I was lucky enough to get seat no. 4, though not as comfortable as 1-2. The journey started pretty well from Shimla and at Shoghi the bus stopped for
    some passangers who were supposed to board from Shoghi but never came. Slowly the passangers became restless and asked the driver to leave as the passangers
    who were no where in site. The conductor was hesitant to leave and then finally he saw the seat numbers they were occupied!!
    Well he had’nt checked the tickets till then. He found out that the passangers had boarded the bus at Shimla only. Well I curiously glanced across his ticket
    sheet, and found that the this particular booking was made by Shoghi Communications, http://www.himachalhotels.in and the conductor had no clue that Shoghi
    communications are sellers of online ticket of HRTC. He simply assumed that the boarding was from Shoghi.

    I don’t blame the poor chap but that was the responsibility of the guy looking after VOLVO operations. HRTC has provided cell phones to conductors in case
    of any problems and this guy in Shimla calls every hour to check where the bus has reached and are there any problems??

    Coming to driver and conductor, there behaviour was best they could do. One of the passangers puked inside the bus. They stopped the bus, put some mud in
    the affected area and upon reaching Chandigarh had the entire bus cleaned and paid from there own pocket. The driver was great. We started from Shimla at 11
    am and reached Chandigarh at 3 pm. This guy never stepped gas and was driving like a Buddha!! I would give this driver 20 out of 10!!!

    The drive to Delhi from Chandigarh was good and still I was sitting just behind the driver the guy hardly touched 60 and starting at 3.30 pm from Chandigarh
    we were at Himachal Bhawan at 8.30 pm.

    Now some suggestions:

    The bus stopped for lunch at HPTDC Shiwalik cafe at Parwanoo and I had a veg thali which costed me 60/ bucks. Now HPTDC can do better than offerring better
    food than this!! The food came out in the hospital kind of thali with moong daal, and something with lots of potatoes which they called vegetables, loaaads
    of rice and two chapatis. Now I hate rice and asked them to remove rice and instead give some more chapatais but the waiter said, “No more chapattis, you can
    leave the rice, This is the thali”. Come on guys, I get hungry when I am travelling, let me eat what I want rather what you guys throw in front of me to eat
    .!! Hope Aluwahlia Sahib (MD-HPTDC) can look into the matter and have a little more decent menu on cards for the paying Junta.
    I know for sure that had his preceddesor, Mr. Tarun Shridhar be incharge, and reading this, firstly I would have got my 60/ bucks as refund, then an
    explanation from the Manager at Parwanoo about the quality of food there, and lastly he would have made me called from Parwanoo on my next trip to Delhi
    about the quality of food and if I were satisfied then only accept the payment and in case not, the poor Manager would be cooling his heels somewhere in
    Lahaul area.. :)) I mean that Mr. Shridhar is not known to me personally but the amount of care he took about guest feedback was awesome.
    I wonder what he is doing in IAS.. Make him a CEO of any hospitality group and he could do some fantastic.
    Alhuwalia Sahib has been a VIP beurocrate all his life.. has still a lot of catching to do with his precedessor!

    Today did Delhi – Jaipur – Delhi in a VOLVO of a private transporter and the trip was great. There was a small toilet inside the coach.
    No need to stop the bus. HRTC can remove the last two rows and have a inhouse lavatory. Yes.. why not..!!!

  4. DSPathania says:

    July 26th, 2007 at 10:07 AM (#)

    Ha Ha….That’s service with frown, nepotism and indiscipline.

    That’s why tourists go elsewhere and most of the the ones who drive in droves to the hills are ‘dumchis’ and ‘nashedies’. Thanks to ‘malana’…one gets a kick on the highland.

    On part of public….our desi dudes/dudettes will always be quick in flaunting their contacts with idiots-in-power.

  5. विविधादित्य says:

    July 26th, 2007 at 4:49 PM (#)

    I agree with Nityin that Mr Tarun Shridhar would certainly have paid heed to the feedback. In fact HimVani’s two ideas in the past have been implemented by him. Though the department would not accept that, but my sources in the journalistic circles in Shimla do affirm that it’s HimVani’s ideas. In fact some of the journalists personally forwarded HimVani’s ideas to Mr Shridhar, which he earnestly took up.

  6. विविधादित्य says:

    July 26th, 2007 at 4:54 PM (#)

    In fact, initially when the Volvo buses were announced in Himachal, it was told that they would have lavatories. But why they weren’t installed, only the department knows best.

    Travel between Shimla and Kalka causes a lot of people mountain-sickness and the whole bus seems to be puking and it’s a chain affect. If one starts puking the others too start feeling nauseating and start the chain. I’ve personally seen, people asking to stop the bus as they want to throw their vomit-full bags out, as the windows cannot be opened in the Volvo buses.

    Not only to answer your natural call, these lavatories could be used by people to puke and wash their mouth.

  7. viplav says:

    July 29th, 2007 at 7:54 PM (#)

    well quite a long reply NITYIN.
    soon after the service was launched i decided just to see how is the booking dealt with. So i keept on looking for their site, and when finally i located it, i got the classic HTML page not found error, haven’t tried since then, but going to Shimla on 31Aug, and was hoping to book ticket using same facility, there experiences make me think again

  8. NITYIN says:

    July 30th, 2007 at 8:36 PM (#)

    Firstly, every one in power is not an idiot and this desi dude does’nt believe in generalizing the whole lot of IAS in Himachal. If any man or woman has been doing some great work in the rotten system as ours they do deserve praise! Every thing is not honky dory in the land of goras but we are trying to improvise the system here. Every thing is not fine tuned in gora land. I never encountered pick pocketing in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore, Nagpur, Patna, Nepal, Shillong, Gwahati, Amritsar, Jammu, Srinagar, Leh, Sripremadur, Trivendrum, Lucknow, Puri, Bhubneshwar, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodra, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur and the list is endless… but of all the places yours truly got screwed but pick pocketers at London!!!

    Before I divert from the topic, Tarun Shridhar as MD of HRTC was the one who started computerization work of HRTC and all ticketing and inventory of HRTC was done in his time. The local LAN facility connecting the HRTC reservation facility at the Mall and the ISBT was done in his time only. Sadly the guys who took after him couldn’t take his work forward.

    Yes Vividh, in case HRTC could provide lavatories in these buses it could be a great convenience for the traveling public. Quality of food provided by HPTDC is still a matter of concern. If one have been to Haryana Tourism Oasis at Pipli, near Kurukshetra they must be knowing what I am talking about. All Haryana Roadways buses stop at this place and they have a good menu and fast service. People traveling in VOLVO buses are highend paying people and the impression they get about HPTDC is dismissal. On its part HPTDC can reach out to the travelers and offer reservations at its Shimla Hotels. But these things require a pro-active approach.

    Lastly I read in the media that Ahluwalia Sahib (MD-HPTDC) was having a ball at the (in) famous party at Dharamsala where the poor Mantriji had to ultimately resign for Dancing with the Wolves (read whores!)

    Viplav, the VOLVO leaves from Delhi at 6.30 am and 9.30 am from ISBT and if you could make for the 6.30 am coach getting tickets won’t be a problem… Happy travels in Himachal….

  9. Rajesh Sharma says:

    August 1st, 2007 at 5:25 PM (#)

    One more thing .. The Himachalhotels.com charges 20 bucks for each ticket booking … I guess some one in HRTC can only explain if a person is printing his own ticket why he should be charged more …

    Nityn .. true that crime has a global presence, for that matter we do not serach for safe area in city here for living like in London :)) …But not the one like My father is IAS so the bus has to wait for me .. this was one of classic example when I was in my college 🙂

  10. raj says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 12:39 PM (#)

    i was trying for a e-booking a couple of days ago but couldn’t do so as there was some problem with payment gatway(hdfc). now from yesterday online site (http://sugamhimachal.org/HRTCTickets/) is not working altogether.

    if its outsourced than if hrtc guys know about it?
    its more than 36 hours and by any standards its huge for online service!

  11. Neha says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 5:58 PM (#)

    Just this week, returning from Delhi, i saw a similar thing happening at the Delhi counter for Shimla. This man had a complaint for he had not got his e ticket but he was carrying the copy of his reservation. The employees had nothing to offer to him, no solution, not way out, nothing….

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