VIA Rail employees to use BlackBerry smartphones at departure gates and on board trains

eticket scanner
By Michelle Haag on 6 Jul 2012 08:06 pm EDT
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Canadians making use of VIA Rail will soon be taking advantage of a new way of ticketing thanks to VIA's On Train and Station Automation project that's just launched into Phase 2. As of July 3rd, VIA is piloting an e-ticketing system between Montreal and Quebec, so if you book travel between those two cities you'll be emailed an e-ticket which you can either print out or access directly from your smartphone! This means no more standing in line at the ticket office, you can proceed directly to the departure gate.

But the really cool part lies in the changes they are making for the reservations systems. When you arrive at the departure gate, VIA staff will be equipped with a BlackBerry and scanner which they will use to scan your ticket, validating it and adding your name to the virtual list of all passengers traveling on that train.
This is both a more efficient and reliable way of updating the passenger list. It also means that other departments can have access to the real-time information. Staff will know, at a glance, how many seats are still available on the train (for any stand-by passengers), or if any ticket holders are missing (announcements can be made). They will also have the most up-to-date information about passenger service requests such as meal choices and train connections, which will improve the quality of customer service, something we take very seriously at VIA.

Not only is the new system expected to be more efficient, it's also revolutionary for the travel industry. As the BlackBerry and scanner are linked wirelessly to VIA's central reservation system, tickets can be validated en route which is a great solution for people in remote communities. If all goes well in the pilot, as expected, the service will be extended to the whole Windsor - Quebec City corridor in August of 2012. Awesome to see companies finding new ways to implement BlackBerry into their day-to-day operations!

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Source: VIA Rail

Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1191 (articles) 1683 (forum posts)
14 comments

birdman_36

Any good news right now is welcomed.

BruvvaPete

twooth. I've seen electronic tickets on BB's at YVR for years.

Michelle Haag

It's not so much about the electronic tickets as it is about the employees being equipped with BlackBerry smartphones and scanners at the gates and on board the trains.

bhegs

Why do they need both a scanner and a BlackBerry? Sounds kind of cumbersome to me. If it's a QR code, the BB should be okay to scan that.

In the US, I believe Amtrak is using the iPhone as an all in one tool. Be interested in hearing VIA's passenger numbers.

Camfella

Yes, Amtrak is using the IPhone, which begs the question: If this system is already being implemented, is it "revolutionary for the travel industry"?

BBQNX

Just to clarify .....when they say "blackberry and a scanner" they are not talking about two equipment ......RIM has given them a custom made scanner that runs on BBOS on 4G network. here is the video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ar_1alYW3M&feature=channel&list=UL

kdna

I want one of those custom scanners. Anyone know where I can buy one?

Rootbrian

Ebay or the company that makes them? The scanner is likely a camera. :D

9of13

The MTA here in NYC is working on implementing NFC for fare payment on buses and at subway turnstiles. And in recent years, they've been app developer friendly and encourage by providing what's needed for real time info. I wouldn't be surprised if a fare payment app with NFC comes out then.

boldkeyboardholic

we have here since years these bar code / e-tickes, but they using very big devices to scan it and it look like some times the devices are very slow to verify the code.

Sadly, via smartphone only via app from the company, and you are guessing right, only for iOS and Android available ;(

They are working on an html5 mobile website to do this, I believe I read an article about that.

In my opinion a lot better than apps. (not the all in the cloud thing, but for plattform and suport)

The Scannerdevice here looks very nice, small and hopefully fast :)

BTW I watchted the YT-Link, and the funniest thing was the frence version was automatically shown after.

It must be really difficult sometimes to have two language to support in one country, esp. if one of it is Frence ;P

sirpaul896

VIA Rail is expensive as shit. Over $1000 from Toronto to Vancouver. Busing is under $300, and a plane ticket costs $300 in the off season, $650 otherwise.

sk8er_tor

$300 plane ticket? You must be talking one way.

w0qj

It would be brilliant if some form of NFC would be employed...

Asian Cities have been using NFC for transport like bus, railway, subways for 10+ years now, and also using this same NFC for micro-payments too at McDonalds, etc.
(the system is called Octopus in Hong Kong).

Too bad RIM did not set up NFC use for the Oyster Underground system in UK in time for London 2012 Olympics... it would have been a marketing coup...

Halifax Guy

As we see more VIA Rail service being cut, it seems to be a waste of resources to develop and implement this type of project.