E-ticket Talks Back On Board
Members of the Fiji Bus Operators Association have thrown their united support behind a second attempt to have e-ticketing consoles installed in all buses in the country.
Representatives from all 56 bus companies from around the country met with Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, yesterday to map out a way forward for e-ticketing.
And, stringent timelines have been set for the association and representatives from three service providers – Vodafone Fiji Limited, Digicel Fiji and Bula
in tandem to make e-ticketing work.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has made it clear to the association and representatives from the three intended service providers that the implementation should not burden Fijians who commute in buses.
“The bus operators want e-ticketing and so does Government. It captures revenue for both – bus operators and Government. It improves tax collection but it also provides a lot of certainty to passengers too, not having to carry cash.
“Also, for students, we found that there had been some abuse of the bus voucher system and this will cut down on that too.
“We have said to the service providers that there needs to be interoperability between the three intended service providers – both in the backend and frontend so that it does not inconvenience consumers.”
This means that a person should be able to get a card with money on it and use it on all buses irrespective of whether the consoles are from Vodafone Fiji Limited, Digicel Fiji or Bula Mai Fiji.
“Unfortunately the three companies had not been able to come up with an agreed plan on interoperability and to be able to work with each other. Now, we have the bus operators very much united. Previously, there were some disagreements between the operators – some of them were simply pushing for one provider over the other.
“But, from the meeting today, all of them have an agreement that they simply want a system that works,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
He said that with correct revenue recorded and collected, bus companies would be able to invest in newer buses which in turn would also assist Fiji to reduce its carbon footprint.
“As the Honourable Prime Minister has said we need to reduce our carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2030. The more older buses we have, the larger our carbon footprint will be, the greater lack of efficiency we will have in those buses.”
After the meeting, an agreement was signed by the representatives present, which stated that:
E-Ticketing system be implemented as a matter of priority
60 days be given to the 3 intended service providers to overcome all interoperability issues
The 3 providers meet in 2 weeks and submit a report to Government before 15 December
Should the 3 service providers fail to resolve issues of interoperability, the Association endorsed that Government make a decision to select one or more service providers to provide the service
If the three are unable to resolve issues, the service provider(s) selected by Government will be utilised by the Association and individual members of the Association
The Association and its members will publicly support E-Ticketing and will take measures to ensure the successful implementation of the system.
Association members are keen to see this implemented as soon as possible and thanked Government to bringing the service providers and the Association together to make this happen.
Anjini Singh, representing Tacirua Transport Company Limited, said it was time the bus industry moved with the times.
“Our company has been exclusively using Vodafone’s MPaisa system and for us, that has worked perfectly. At any given point, we are able to state how many passengers we have carried, how many adults, how many children travelled, where exactly our buses are since we have an integrated vehicle tracking system within the e-ticketing system,” she said.
“If a bus has not reached a school on time, we can track it on a map. Also, I can tell social welfare how many senior citizens we have carried, how many exempt class people have travelled and from which region they have travelled. In 5 to 7 years’ time, if we are to bring in vehicles which are wheelchair friendly or installed with reserving cameras and Wi-Fi systems, then I can see which demographical areas are my senior citizens, etc coming from and that data in real time can be captured through the use of e-ticketing system.”
Nadi operator Shahbud Dean Transport’s managing director Zane Dean said: “We have waited for three years now and we have waited too long. We are losing a lot of revenue and we want it implemented immediately. This will bring about transparency. Government is doing its best and in an open manner, Government is giving everybody a chance to prove what they can do. Government is not taking sides and want everybody to do their part.”
Nisar Ali Shah, of KBL Buses, said: “I think it is a very good thing for bus operators by having the consoles installed, it will capture correct revenue, will in turn go towards creating more employment, amongst other investments. I think this has been needed for a long time.”
Edited by Naisa Koroi