State-run Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) targets to implement the automated ticketing system in ports starting next year.
This is in line with the Department of Transportation’s directive to shift to cashless transaction across all transportation sectors to reduce human-to-human transactions and help control the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
PPA began the test run of the automated ticketing machines at the Port of Batangas and Port of Calapan in Mindoro last September 18.
Jay Daniel Santiago, PPA general manager, said the agency’s goal is to bid out the automatic ticketing machines before the end of the year and start implementation by next year.
The number of automated ticketing machines will depend on the passenger traffic in each port terminal.
The unified electronic ticketing system, equipped with unified electronic reservation and ticketing assistant, seeks to provide online services for the convenience and benefit of port users, attain overall ease of doing business, get rid of fixers and scalpers, and improve port processes for maritime safety and security, while providing reliable service for inter-island maritime operations.
With services available online and the integrated vessel booking and payment system for roll-on-roll-off ports in place, passengers can reserve, book and pay for tickets online via desktop or mobile phones.
For those who do not have online access, they can directly buy their tickets using the automated ticket vending machines to be situated in all PPA-managed ports nationwide.
Despite the shift to online transactions, Santiago assured that employees will not lose their jobs as the PPA will set up help desks to assist passengers in their ticketing concerns such as cancellation of trips and refund.
Santiago also introduced a new contact tracing mobile application, TRAZE, which will be used in all PPA facilities and shipping lines nationwide.
There are also designated QR codes posted in PPA facilities and shipping lines which must be scanned prior to entering the facility. Once the passenger downloads the app and scans the facility’s QR code to register, a unique QR code per passenger will be generated which contains information specific for contact tracing.
The mobile app will automatically notify the passengers, who downloaded the app via email or text message, if there was a reported COVID-19 positive case whom they might have interacted with in the terminal or passenger ships.
To recall, PPA has been improving its services through digital transformation, having launched its Electronic Payment Portal (EPP) last July.
The EPP is designed for doing electronic exchanges specifically for payment of port transactions which is also linked to the cargo handling operators’ online systems.