The deluge, according to KTMB chief executive officer Datuk Kamarulzaman Zainal, came from the combination of demand associated with year-end school holidays, Christmas, Chinese New Year and Thaipusam, all of which was taking place from December until the end of February.
“We used to sell our tickets on a month-to-month basis but as we managed to secure a confirmed schedule from the contractor of the Klang Valley Double Track (KVDT) rehabilitation, we decided to open up the sale for the three-month block,” he told a press conference.
The KVDT rehabilitation is a massive project that had caused severe disruption to KTMB’s services running within the Klang Valley over the past few years as cargo, intercity, Komuter and ETS trains share either a pair of tracks and at work bottlenecks, only a single track.
Kamarulzaman said KTMB did its calculations before opening for the three-month block for sale on Monday.
“By our estimation, the ticketing system is supposed to be able to deal with the load,” he said adding that KTMB was also saddled with a “legacy” IT infrastructure that was purchased in 2000.
“It took up to 30 minutes to sell one ticket on Monday, and yesterday the time dropped to two minutes.
“We are truly sorry our customers had such an unpleasant experience,” he said, adding that the improvement was the result of several quick measures that were immediately implemented to address the situation.
Firstly, KTMB increased the bandwidth to its servers from 100Mbps to 200Mbps and secondly, it increased the number of central processing units used in its servers from 10 to 15.
For a longer-term solution, KTMB is embarking on a drive to embrace full digitisation of its infrastructure and services with substantial progress to be seen by the third quarter of next year.
“We already have a consultant studying our system so that it could be revamped.
“We expect to use ticketing systems that are on par with those used in aviation ticketing, as far as stability and reliability are concerned,” he said, adding that KTMB’s servers recorded nearly 400,000 users when sales opened, causing severe congestion.
Despite the chaos, KTMB still managed to sell up to 57,000 tickets by 10pm on Monday, with popular destinations being mostly north-bound, to places like Butterworth and Padang Besar.
A survey by The Star at KL Sentral yesterday found that a sense of calm had returned to the ticketing counters, with customers queuing calmly and orderly.
In Putrajaya, Transport Minister Anthony Loke expressed regret over Monday’s incident and said a substantial revamp of the ticketing system, which has weaknesses, was required.
“To this end, the ministry has directed KTMB to take remedial measures,” he said after attending a conference on bus rapid transit organised by Volvo Buses, Technology Depository Agency and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd.
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