State-run Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) plans to start the implementation of its automated ticketing system in all ports by next year to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
According to the port authority, bidding for its Unified Electronic Ticketing System, to include the automated ticketing machines, is scheduled before the end of the year.
The number of the automated ticketing machines to be installed will depend on the passenger traffic of each port terminal, the PPA said.
The Unified Electronic Ticketing System which is equipped with an electronic reservation and ticketing assistant, aims to reduce human-to-human transactions to comply with the ‘new normal’ protocols to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The new ticketing system aims to provide online services for the convenience and benefit of port users, attain overall ease of doing business, remove fixing and ticket scalping, and improve port processes for maritime safety and security, while providing reliable service for inter-island maritime operations.
Through its online application procedure, the Unified Electronic Ticketing System will also support an integrated vessel booking and payment system for roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) ports. Using desktop computers or mobile gadgets such as mobile phones, passengers using the system, can reserve, book, and pay for tickets online.
Should passengers have no access online, they can directly buy their tickets using the automated ticket vending machines to be located in all PPA-managed ports nationwide.
PPA General Manager Daniel Jay Santiago assures that the new online ticketing system will also prevent fixers and scalpers from selling tickets at higher prices as valid government-issued IDs will be required prior to booking.
Safety will also be prioritized by the system as overbooking and overloading of passengers in shipping vessels will be avoided. Seating capacity per vessel in the online system will be based on the authorized number of passengers per vessel by approved by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
Santiago added that the PPA will be closely coordinating with MARINA to ensure that the maximum number of passengers available in the online system will follow the social distancing protocols currently being implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
He also said that aside from providing a faster, more convenient, and safer ticketing system to passengers since this will no longer require human-to-human interaction, shipping companies will also benefit from the system as this will lessen their expenses and will help them in the proper filing of taxes.
Meanwhile, PPA assured port employees that there will be no lay-offs even if the Unified Electronic Ticketing System goes online as help and public assistance desks to be manned by PPA personnel will be maintained. These desks will assist passengers on their ticketing concerns such as cancellation of trips and refunds.