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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