Take two for taxi cards

Gaut­eng backs roll-out of smart cards for minibus taxis that was re­jected in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT - AL­WYN VILJOEN

DE­SPITE Pi­eter­mar­itzburg taxi driv­ers and con­duc­tors burn­ing the first pi­lot of smart cards for minibus taxis in the city last year, the Gaut­eng prov­ince is now hop­ing to drag the cash-based taxi in­dus­try into the 20th cen­tury with a swipe card sys­tem.

KYLE VENKTESS re­ports for Fin24 that the card-based project — which is backed by the Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and headed up by the Tax­iChoice As­so­ci­a­tion — was in­tro­duced last Tues­day at taxi ranks on the Jo­han­nes­burg, Pre­to­ria and Mabopane (JPM) route.

The sys­tem is­sues com­muters with what looks like a reg­u­lar bank card or quick-re­sponse (QR) code to pay for their taxi fare.

Jotham Msibi, Tax­iChoice As­so­ci­a­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive chair, said that the project is planned to al­low for bet­ter con­trol of cash in the taxi in­dus­try.

“The ini­tia­tive is com­pli­ant with pay­ment reg­u­la­tions and is a level-four bank­ing stan­dard, op­er­at­ing on the same plat­form that banks are us­ing,” he said.

“This sys­tem is mak­ing use of a very high tech­nol­ogy sys­tem and the same sys­tem can be used for buses and trains, to make public trans­port ef­fi­cient, re­li­able and safe,” Msibi added.

Gaut­eng Trans­port MEC Is­mail Vadi said that the ini­tia­tive is a smaller part in the greater goal of public trans­port com­muters be­ing able to use one card for all forms of trans­port.

“The stan­dard that must be strived for is ‘One Prov­ince — One Ticket’ in line with the na­tional elec­tronic fare-col­lec­tion reg­u­la­tions,” he added.

“We want there to be one elec­tronic card with no prob­lems. This is a dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy that needs to be used to our ad­van­tage but we must take our time,” Vadi said.

Vadi added that the ini­tia­tive also in­tends to make taxi trans­porta­tion safer for com­muters.

“Now that the driver does not need to col­lect and count taxi fares, he can be fo­cused on driv­ing,” he said.

But progress will take place, and in Gaut­eng, the taxi dig­i­tal fare-col­lec­tion sys­tem is owned and be­ing im­ple­mented by FairPay.

Tax­iChoice — the com­mer­cial arm of the South African Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco) — is cur­rently the sole share­holder in FairPay, with Curve Group Hold­ings as the tech­nol­ogy part­ner.

“We be­lieve in con­nect­ing peo­ple to op­por­tu­nity and this project rep­re­sents a leap ahead for the South African taxi in­dus­try.

“Through the use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy, we can as­sist mil­lions of hard-work­ing peo­ple to be more con­nected, more in­formed and lead bet­ter lives,” said Fred Baumhardt, CEO of Curve Group.

When the San­taco pi­loted the same type of sys­tem in the city, Nh­lanhla Nkomo, chair of the as­so­ci­a­tion, told ED­WARD WEST of The Wit­ness that the card sys­tem would “for­malise the in­dus­try, re­sult in taxi in­dus­try em­ploy­ees be­ing treated as nor­mal work­ers with ben­e­fits, and re­sult in safer minibus trans­port”.

The sys­tem was pi­loted in 113 taxis be­long­ing to the Grand West­gate Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion in Novem­ber last year. Wit­ness re­porter CHELSEA PIETERSE re­ported driv­ers and con­duc­tors hurled rocks and bricks at the Lan­gal­ibalele Street taxi rank to protest against the “no cash in taxis” cam­paign, while mem­bers of the uM­gun­gundlovu Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion also protested against the new sys­tem.

uM­gun­gundlovu Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion chair Bheki Sokhela then said the pas­sen­gers had turned from wel­com­ing a card sys­tem that could be pre-loaded with fares on weekly or monthly ba­sis, to protest­ing with driv­ers and con­duc­tors in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment of France.

Com­muter Thembi Du­makude said they are against the card sys­tem be­cause it would even­tu­ally phase out the role of taxi con­duc­tors and lots of peo­ple would lose their jobs.

“This is a poor area … and we do not want that,” Du­makude told The Wit­ness.

PHOTO: KYLE VENKTESS (FIN24)

Com­muters who use taxis in Jo­han­nes­burg and Tsh­wane will be able to load pre­paid Fairpay cards for taxis at taxi ranks from Fe­bru­ary next year, if Gaut­eng’s driv­ers do not burn the sys­tem as did Mar­itzburg’s driv­ers.

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