By Erik Crouch
Instead of dealing with the inefficient internet-belch that is the Rail Ministry’s ticketing website, many Chinese holiday travelers have taken to using internet plug-ins and apps to acquire their train tickets. The Rail Ministry site, first rolled out in January 2012, quickly developed a reputation as buggy, crashy, and unreliable: not good news for a tasked with dealing with the biggest human migration ever. In response, “ticket grabber” apps have been developed that automatically re-enter a migrant’s travel details until the order finally goes through.
The apps have been criticized as cheating the system – they do provide users with an advantage over others in purchasing tickets. That said, the programs are free, and they are only built in response to the Ministry’s pitifully unusable website. Some six million have already taken advantage of “ticket grabber” services like those provided by Qihoo and Kingsoft, and their use will likely only increase unless the Rail Ministry’s US$48.2 million error-page-generator steps up its game.