Stadteregion: aseag launches “eticket”: many customers ignore the devices

Stadteregion : Aseag launches "eTicket": Many customers ignore the devices

No matter through which door, the main thing is to get on the bus quickly: as here in front of the Viktoriaschule, Aachen's schoolchildren are almost universally unimpressed by the introduction of the 'eTicket', ignoring the 'validators' and putting their own interpretation of the 'quick check-in' on display

Stadteregion It’s hard to get started – especially when you have to deal with a strange device called a "validator". At any rate, this is the experience of an elderly customer who boards an Aseag bus at the bus station in Aachen on this Monday afternoon and doesn’t know exactly how and where she should now hold her brand-new "eTicket" up to this device so that she gets the green light.

By Annika Kasties, Oliver Schmetz and Ute Steinbusch

But Udo Borgsdorf is quickly on the spot and helps the senior citizen. He is a pensioner himself, but today he wears an Aseag jacket and is on duty. With 24 other helpers, he is hired on a temporary basis to gently usher passengers into the digital age.

New reader for 'eTickets': But such validators are not yet hanging in all buses

Because this Monday, things will get serious: From now on, it’s "New boarding, please", as Aseag puts it on its website. That means: If you don’t have an "eTicket", you get in at the front, if you have an electronic subscription card, you take the second door, which is also advertised as "quick check-in" on the buses. And all other back doors should be reserved for getting out of the car.

"It still has to settle in"

At least that’s the theory. In practice, it takes a good half minute at the bus terminal at noon until the elderly lady in question is successful in handling the unfamiliar chip card – so much for "quick check-in". "It all still has to settle in," says helper Borgsdorf calmly. Especially since scanning the "eTickets" is not mandatory anyway. Whoever does not hold his valid annual ticket in front of the "validator" is by no means a "fare dodger". Aseag explicitly emphasizes that. Rather, the aim is to facilitate checks in this way, explained Aseag boss Michael Carmincke in a recent interview. So according to the motto: Who gets in the back and doesn’t use the "validator", exposes himself at least to the suspicion of not having a ticket.

But it could also be that he doesn’t have an "eTicket" yet, even though he’s been paying for it for months. According to information from our newspaper, this still applies to an unknown number of subscribers to "School&Fun tickets," making it clear that the chaos that has been going on for months about undelivered tickets, false reminders and cancellations, and a completely overburdened customer service has not yet ended completely. Because the editorial office is still receiving corresponding customer complaints.

For example, a passenger recently reported that his Aseag cell phone ticket was not readable when checked by a train conductor and that he had to buy a new ticket – and his complaint by e-mail has been unanswered for about three weeks now. Quite apart from the fact that the service phone for cell phone ticket customers is apparently not manned at all, as the customer complains. Another construction site?

Aseag spokesman Paul Heesel says when asked that it is actually not possible that anyone has not received an ‘eTicket’. "All applications that we have received have been processed." And: "All around 120.000 ‘eTickets’ have been sent out by the end of 2017."If there are nevertheless isolated problems, the persons concerned should turn to the Aseag – which they have usually already done several times and which is also not so simple.

Heesel admits that the customer center is overloaded: "We still haven’t dealt with all the inquiries." And to the topic Handyticket the Aseag speaker confirms: "In principle there is no problem with these tickets."The individual case would have to be examined. And: "Basically, the service phone for cell phone ticket customers is manned."

However, it is not only some "eTickets" that are missing. Not all the buses are ready for the digital age either – something Heesel confirms. 55 vehicles of an external company could be equipped with "validators" only in the course of this year. On the other hand, 220 Aseag buses and 185 vehicles of subcontractors have been converted.

Also as far as acceptance is concerned, all beginnings are probably difficult. In any case, Jutta Muschaweck has no intention of holding her "eTicket" in front of the reader. "I pay my contribution to Aseag every month and therefore find it unnecessary," says the 60-year-old teacher. She also doesn’t want to be told which door to use to enter the bus. She seems to share this attitude with many Aseag customers.

Whether bus station, Elisenbrunnen or Templergraben in Aachen: Only a few passengers have their gray cards scanned by the "validator". "This morning, the bus was simply too full for that," explains student Emre Yilanci, for example. Whether there would have been a green signal for him from the "validator", he could therefore not say at all. At the beginning of December, checks revealed that 7500 semester tickets were unreadable. Those affected were able to update their tickets themselves at terminals.

Everything the same in Herzogenrath

Gesa von Katte is one of the first students to leave the Herzogenrath school center on this dreary Monday afternoon. The twelfth-grader calmly climbs into the bus, whose doors are open at the front and the back. Whether she has heard that Aseag has introduced a new system as of today and that she can scan her bus ticket at the back of the entrance area and no longer board at the front?

"Something was communicated once, but today there was no innovation," says the high school student and shakes her head. Curious, she nevertheless puts it to the test and holds her ID in front of the scanner at the back door. The device checks the ID card, then displays a green arrow and wishes "Have a good trip". So far, so good.

Little by little, the space at the turning ramp in front of the school center fills up. More buses arrive, students get on. They all ignore the device. Ina Schmidt and Adelowo Dawodu sit behind the wheel of two of the buses. Have they starting from today the Anweisunge to open for the pupils only in the back? Both shake their heads. "I let people in everywhere," explains Dawodu in a friendly manner. At most, colleague Schmidt can only imagine that things would need to be retrofitted for this eventuality. So for now, it’s business as usual, both for the drivers and for their young passengers.

Little understanding for fuss

Former Aachen SPD councillor Claus Haase has little understanding for the fuss about the "eTicket. "Any change of habit is difficult, especially for the Aachener. If there is something new, he does not like it. But if it is then again abolished, he is also pissed off. But I think that in some time, no one will talk about the issue," he says. After all, "checking in" by reader – see Stockholm or Gothenburg – is no problem abroad either.

And after all: for many students, the "quick check-in" thing is not a problem at all – especially during rush hours. This can be seen, for example, in front of the Viktoriaschule, where dozens of students crowd the bus stop after school, when a bus arrives. To be on the safe side, the driver opens all the doors and the students board the bus in a matter of seconds – without a single one pulling out his or her "eTicket.

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