August 30, 2012

E-boarding Pass: The Whos and Hows

As of the first week of August, our e-boarding pilot project moved past the pilot phase and was officially launched across the Québec-city – Windsor corridor. The project has been moving forward with great success and we have many people to thank for this.

But before getting into the “whos”, we thought it might be interesting to learn a little more about the “hows”.

The On Train and Station Automation (OTS) application, developed in collaboration with our supplier Soluteo, was created for many reasons. Our  first article about the OTS project provides a great overview of the project and explains both the motivation behind and the useful features of the system. Make sure to watch the video too, for a little demo of the new e-boarding pass.

So how was the OTS system created? In brief, programs were designed and created to link many “back-end” or behind-the-scenes systems with our front-line employees, through Blackberry smartphones. For the e-boarding pass project alone, the OTS system has to integrate VIA’s Equipment/Trains management system, reservation system, train scheduling system, Human Resource management system and Document management system.

That’s a lot of information to filter through one smartphone! Thankfully, the skill needed to create this system was found by combining the minds at VIA and Soluteo, and the OTS system has been functioning well.

Given that our e-boarding program has proven so successful to date, we’d like to share some of the glory with our suppliers, with whom VIA has worked very closely for many months to make this happen.

Along with Soluteo, a project of this magnitude has required the collaboration of four other suppliers: Koamtac for the scanners, RIM for the Blackberrys, Innovestar for the e-ticket barcode and IBM for the reservation system. Talk about teamwork!

Congratulations to all the parties involved on a successful launch.

As for the future of the OTS project, if everything continues to work well, it should be available to the  entire VIA network before the end of the year. That means e-borading will kick-in for all VIA routes across Canada.

The OTS system is one part of VIA Rail’s Billion-Dollar Transformation. To read more about our other Station, Train and Track projects, please visit our home page.