THE long-awaited Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) buses finally started operating on Monday.This follows after complimentary bus tickets were distributed to the public by Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Athol Trollip and MMC for Roads and Transport Rano Kayser at Cleary Park last week Friday. Commuters can obtain complimentary tickets at the Cleary Park customer care centre and the Mfanasekhaya Gqobose Building (formerly Eric Tindale Building) in Govan Mbeki Avenue, which can be used until April 9. The complimentary ticket will allow commuters to have access to 12 free trips. From April 10, standard fare bus tickets will be available at R10 each. “This is our way of getting the public to experience this transportation system, so, we can receive valuable feedback from them,” Kayser said. Last week Monday, the MMC officially handed over 25 IPTS buses to a local operator, Spectrum Alert, at the Cleary Park bus depot.Commenting on the postponement of the roll-out date for the bus system following several years of delays in getting the project off the ground, Kayser said the moment for the IPTS buses had finally arrived with the last piece of the puzzle now in place.“It was a really hard and bumpy road but we managed to stay on course. “I have made a commitment that we will not deviate from legislative requirements and accordingly the city now mandates the industry to run the IPTS on its behalf,” Kayser said.He said taxi drivers and guardjies (previously responsible for collecting money and operating taxi doors) had been trained and were now qualified Code 14 drivers and many more job opportunities would follow, including security services, maintenance and mechanical jobs among others. “We would, however, like the beneficiaries of these jobs to come primarily from the taxi industry,” Kayser said.Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said that the buses would service four main routes which included Cleary Park to the CBD terminal. “The other three routes will include suburbs within the northern areas,” he said. Police officers and armed forces, who can present their appointment certificates as proof, will be able to commute for free, while pensioners and students with valid pension or student cards will also get a 20% discount on the normal fare, Kayser added.