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ANALYSIS: E-transport: E-Ticketing? No Problem For Students, Easier For All

ANALYSIS: E-transport: E-Ticketing? No Problem For Students, Easier For All
A passenger using an electronic ticketing machine. I took a short ride on a busy route to understand the situation for myself. Photo: Sheldon Chanel
October 06
13:16 2017

The newly-applied electronic bus ticketing system has been questioned by some, praised by more.

I decided to board a bus as a journalist myself and face this new bit of technology.

The very first passenger I met had to help me punch in my card. Slightly embarrassed, I quickly retrieved my receipt and occupied a front seat.

I was as relieved as the line of people I was holding up was to see me move to survive my first encounter with the machine.

This at first seemed a formidable opponent.

What I saw next though was quite encouraging. Passengers were gliding into the bus with an ease I had never seen in all my time using public transport in Fiji.

It didn’t matter that the driver left the bus unattended to visit the washroom – the machine allowed him that freedom – passengers just kept swiping and entering.

On the very first day of the system’s implementation, some, commuters took to social media to voice their concerns on some of the difficulties they had faced.

Even an online petition to have the system removed emerged, though it never really gained any momentum.

As we proceeded down Queen Elizabeth Drive, with a poorly remixed version of ‘Despacito’ blaring in the background, it was time to pick up school children.

They elbowed past each other in attempts to beat their classmates to using this new piece of technology first.

It quickly dawned on me that children are enjoying the whole saga.

In less than two minutes the group of about 25 students was comfortably seated and we were off again.

I began closely observing the adults entering the bus thereafter.

Most in this age-group used the machine with an appearance of noticeable hesitation, perhaps a consequence of the system’s newness.

And understandably so; a lot of these passengers have been using the cash system their entire lives. Helping them adapt to it will require empathy and patience.

But even they could not have failed to notice how smooth and quick the transactions were.

So much time was saved in passengers boarding the bus that the driver could afford to make quick stops between bus bays to pick up more passengers.

The only worrying incident during my short ride was the amount of people on the bus.

Whether you side with the e-ticketing move or not, it should bother everyone that drivers still allow school children to stand on the last stair of the entrance as the bus manoeuvre’s bends and curves at speed.

Using this machine, authorities will now be able to assess the number of passengers that drivers let on a bus at any single time.

Already there is accountability of the most basic form.

E-ticketing has opened the door to public scrutiny for our buses.

Instead of wholly rejecting a progressive move, let’s take this opportunity to raise debate safety standards on local buses.

And once and for all, let’s please outlaw remixing perfectly acceptable music.

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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Waisale Serevi
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October 2017
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