One of the better things that have happened to our lives recently is the online ticket booking systems. I remember the days when booking a ticket meant waking up at 5 to stand in a line at the railway station, only to return empty-handed at 11 because the quota was filled. Of course, you could still buy as many "black" tickets as you wanted at the pan shop near the counters. From those dark days to the efficiency of anywhere, anytime booking, including specifying seat preference. We have come a long way indeed, at least in this department. The great thing is it applies not just to air and rail bookings but even buses now.
I recently booked with KSRTC and was surprised at how well the website was designed and functioning. The icing on the cake was a airline style seat map! This was such a contrast to the last time we booked, going to a KSRTC travel agent who spent 30 minutes on a dial-up connection just waiting for the page to render. And another 30 while he made mistakes and repeated the search.
Even the bus itself was quite comfortable, even if it did stop at vague food joints and showed the most boring films. Once you have the ticket print out, you just head to Majestic where the platforms are well-numbered and a well-mannered conductor assists you in boarding. The same applies to Airport shuttle, where one can book tickets on RedBus or ViaWorld (although for now the buses are so empty, don't bother with reservation!) and rest assured in the hands of timely service and well-mannered, good-humored, hindi-english-kannada speaking conductors.
For airlines, I have already professed my love for IXIGO by adding their widget below my blog. This clutter-free site shows the final price, all inclusive, whereas many other travel sites confuse us by comparing basic fare only. Then they have a fast, easy interface to refine or modify the search. The best part is, clicking on the fare takes you to the airline website for payment. Ixigo is not an agent and does not collect any fee. You deal direct with the Airline for everything, which makes it hassle-free and cheaper in case of cancelations. I only wish they had a similar service for international flights soon, since comparing best itinerary (stating both total travel time AND total cost clearly) is still quite difficult. If anyone knows of an international flight price-finder from India, do comment and let me know.
On a different note, we recently used the Pune Corporation website for paying property tax. The transaction deducted money from my card but showed up as failed on the website. Sending a mail to the help-desk elicited a prompt response. Within 2 days, they confirmed that tax due was clear. Again, I was happy with not just the facility but even the prompt service.
These small steps go a long way in improving quality of life of the average Indian. More such initiatives will help so much in reducing faltu stress and eliminating corrupt middle-men.