SOFIANS FIND NEW ELECTRONIC SYSTEM IN MASS TRANSPORT USELESS
Although a whole month has passed from the official introduction of the electronic system for validating public transportation tickets in Sofia, there have been no signs for its normal functioning yet. A large part of the devices in the trams and trolley buses do not function at all, while those that appear to be in order are actually blinking the all too familiar sentence: The validator will not work until the system is put into exploitation. Only one in every three vehicles of the mass transit seems to have this system working on all of the devices installed. The whole system cost EUR3MN to the Municipality of Sofia. But even if the whole thing worked at 100%, passengers would probably not use it more than they do now. It turned out that many people don't know how the validating devices work at all although posters containing information on the mode of their use have been placed in all trams and trolley buses.
Similar is the situation with the automated ticket vending machines that are placed behind the driver's cabin. In most of the cases the vending machines are simply returning one's money, blinking Error, when somebody tries to buy a ticket. On the other hand, where the system is working, there are no enthusiasts to use it. Many of the passengers complain that the machines do not give back change and use only coins. Of course, the modern technologies may solve easily the problem, in case the councillors decide it's necessary. Otherwise, the problem is not to be underestimated because the Municipality's aim is to withdraw paper tickets from circulation. Then, the vending machine behind the driver's cabin will be the only way for passengers to buy a ticket if they don't want to have season-tickets. It will be very amusing to see how people reach these machines in the rush hours in overcrowded trolley buses and trams. People's mentality can easily cope with the inconvenience, according to vice-mayor in charge of transportation, Velizar Stoilov: people with season-tickets should enter the vehicles from the rear doors so that those who wish to buy a single ticket may do it more easily. However, Mr. Stoilov did not exclude the option of installing more vending machines in the vehicles of mass transportation in the future.
The bad start of the system is revealed also by the fact that the applications for the new e-documents for transportation are very few. Apparently, the citizens of Sofia are not quite interested in the method of electronic charging, or simply may not be willing to be charged BGN3 to have their chip cards issued. What is most probable is that they don't approve of them at all. There is no sense in the whole move - says a passenger - this is not going to make it more convenient for the people and people who don't pay will continue travelling without tickets.
An old woman wonders why the money for the new electronic system has not been spent on the modernization of the vehicles themselves. There are people who like the innovation, but say they would not start using it until there are paper tickets available.
At this stage, though, electronic charging will be introduced only for trams and trolley buses, while buses will still need the paper tickets. That means when a person with a 10-ticket stub decides to use a tram or a trolley bus, he will have to buy another ticket. As far as the local authorities are concerned, they are confident that there are no mistakes and some time will be needed until the new system starts functioning. However, nobody knows how much time it will take.