With ChatGPT bringing the relevance of chatbots into the limelight, 2023 could well become the year when conversing with a text-based bot through a chat platform becomes commonly accepted everywhere. With this in sight, one of the most common tools that are likely to be leveraged in order to expand the popularity of chatbots is WhatsApp — easily the most popular internet-based communication app among users. While more sophisticated use cases are soon to be built, one of the most common use cases that are already taking flight is the ability to book metro tickets using WhatsApp.
On February 21, Meta-owned WhatsApp officially announced the availability of metro ticket-booking chatbots on the platform. The ability to book metro tickets using WhatsApp has been in the making for a while now, with Mint reporting on October 31 last year that the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) was working on a QR code-based contactless ticketing feature through its hotline on WhatsApp. This also reportedly saw early adoption — according to an Entrackr report, the month of November saw over 54,000 passengers of BMRCL’s 5 lakh daily passengers using WhatsApp for the metro ticketing service.
However, this marked only 0.3 per cent of the overall passenger count for BMRCL. Now, with the rollout of the official chatbot and with a superior, easier-to-use interface, the ability to book metro tickets using WhatsApp should become more commonplace. The rollout of the service this month comes to four cities — Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune, with each of them getting a dedicated WhatsApp chatbot for the same. On this note, here’s looking at how users can book metro tickets using WhatsApp in each of these four cities.
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Table of Contents
Book Metro Tickets using WhatsApp in Bengaluru
To book metro tickets using WhatsApp in Bengaluru, users get a fully-serviced chatbot — an improvement over the QR ticketing service that was introduced before. A report from December 1 last year by Mint said that the service is built by homegrown AI startup, Yellow.ai. To use the service, here are the steps:
- Use WhatsApp on your phone to chat with +918105556677. Alternatively, you can also use this URL to reach the Namma Metro WhatsApp chatbot
- Once you are on the landing page, activate the chatbot by simply writing ‘Hi’ in the window
- You will then be asked to choose a preferred language. At present, the service is only available in English and Kannada
- After selecting the language, you will receive a welcome message. Under this, select one from ‘QR tickets’, ‘Card info and recharge’, and ‘More options’. Select the latter to continue
- From the menu that opens next, select ‘Fare information’
- You will then be asked to select the source location of your journey. Here, you can either share location with the chatbot to help it detect your station, or type in your station name, or select from a list
- You will then be asked to select one of the multiple BMRCL lines, and then see a list of stations that are on the route. Select the one you wish to travel to, from the next prompt
- Once your route is selected, you will get a confirmation message detailing your route, and its fare. Mobile QR tickets get a 5 per cent concession at the moment
- Below this, you will see an option to ‘Book this ticket’. Select this to trigger your WhatsApp-linked UPI account to receive a payment request
- Simply make the payment, and you will receive your booked ticket as a QR code on your chatbot window itself
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Book Metro Tickets using WhatsApp In Hyderabad
To be sure, Bengaluru presently has the most complete WhatsApp chatbot experience to book metro tickets using WhatsApp, and the same does not apply for the rest of the cities. However, you can still use it to book a ticket online. Here’s how:
- Initiate a chat with +918341146468, or click on this link to access the Hyderabad Metro Rail chatbot
- Once you initiate a conversation, you will receive a welcome message with a one-time password that is valid for five minutes, and a link to book a ticket online
- The OTP can be used to visit an e-ticket counter at a metro station, and purchase a ticket
- Alternatively, tapping on ‘book now’ will take users to a webpage managed by L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited, where you can select your preferred route and buy an online ticket
- Here, you can also see your past tickets
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Book Metro Tickets using WhatsApp In Mumbai
Like Hyderabad, Mumbai has a similar service. Here’s how to use it:
- Initiate a chat with +919670008889, or click on this link here
- Like in Hyderabad, Mumbai users will also get an OTP that is valid for five minutes, and a link to book an online ticket
- For the latter, simply visit the webpage and follow on-screen instructions, to get the ticket on your WhatsApp inbox
Book Metro Tickets using WhatsApp In Pune
Pune users have the most limited access to the service for now. Here’s how to use it:
- Initiate a chat with +919420101990, or click on this link here
- Here, you only get an OTP that is valid for five minutes
- Use this at your metro station to purchase a ticket from the counter
Is the service coming to other cities as well?
Yes. According to a report by The Hindustan Times, Ravi Garg, business managing director at WhatsApp India, said that the company would be “happy to support other cities” to create a similar online ticketing experience. However, the executive did not detail if Meta is already in talks with any other public transit body, or offer a timeline for future rollouts. Hence, users in other cities will have to wait and keep an eye out for the launch of such services in their vicinity.