Kenyans will now enjoy an additional service that will enable them to book and pay for tickets on the Madaraka Express through their mobile phones. This follows the introduction of an SMS based payment platform utilizing USSD code *639#. The code will enable passengers to book, pay and even cancel tickets for the Madaraka Express.
Those seeking to buy tickets will be required to dial the code and follow a series of prompts that will enable them buy tickets to the Mombasa, Nairobi, Voi and Mtito Andei passenger terminals/destinations from the comfort of their locations. The SMS based USSD code will also enable passengers to immediately make payments via MPESA to secure their tickets.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina says the new platform will enable passengers to make up to 5 bookings at a go and will also allow Kenyans to purchase tickets up to 7 days in advance.
“We are seeking to leverage the technology offered by the new platform to counter the secondary market of tickets by middlemen who have taken advantage of the use of the stations as the main source of tickets. Through the platform, we hope to make it more convenient for Kenyans seeking to travel to plan their journey in advance and make bookings on time.” Mr. Maina added, “the system will also require those making bookings to provide their names and National Identity Card Number except for minors.”
Once the booking is done passengers will receive a confirmation SMS with a special reference number indicating their destination, time and date of travel as well as the number of passengers reflected on the booking. Passengers will then be required to print their tickets from the service booths at the station upon arrival and produce their National ID cards while checking in to verify that they made the purchase.
Those utilizing the platform are advised to load their MPESA accounts with adequate funds before dialling the USSD code to enable them make direct purchases by following the SMS prompts provided.
The new platform is set to be rolled out on 23 September 2017.
The development of an online booking portal which will allow online payment service providers to connect to the booking system is at trial stage and will be launched in the coming weeks.