Taxi cards pioneered in PMB

2015-12-07 10:30
Taxi rank. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Taxi rank. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Pietermaritzburg - A card payment system for minibus taxis is being tested in Pietermaritzburg, and if successful, will be rolled out nationally.

The Grand Westgate Taxi Association, which operates 113 taxis in the city, is piloting the national card payment system for the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

This is in spite of protests against the project in the city recently.

Nhlanhla Nkomo, chairman of the association, told The Witness that the card system will formalise the industry, result in taxi industry employees being treated as normal workers with benefits, and result in safer minibus transport.

More than 200 000 taxis in South Africa generate an estimated R90 billion a year in fares. The new card system will eventually bring what is still largely an informal industry into the tax net.

Santaco chairman president Philip Taaibosch said they aim to roll out the Fair Pay card system to some 10 000 taxis by the end of March next year, and in all of the nine provinces.

He said the fact that 650 card transactions had already been done, in such a short time, by the Grand Westgate Taxi Association was an indication that it was going to be successful.

But there were protests by commuters and taxi conductors in the city at the end of last month against the roll-out of the card payment system on one of the Grand Westgate Taxi Association’s routes.

Commuters claimed they had not been adequately informed of the change to a card-only payment system, while some taxi staff, especially conductors, were afraid they would lose their jobs if they no longer handled the commuters’ cash fares.

Taaibosch said there had been a “misunderstanding” with commuters and the issue had been sorted out.

In terms of the new system, money is pre-loaded onto a card so it can be swiped inside the taxi instead of commuters having to pay taxi fare directly, in cash, to the conductor.

Nkomo said the association had since held meetings with community leaders and with staff to explain the changes and to reassure taxi workers that they would not lose their jobs.

At present, the association operates both the card and cash payment systems on its routes, but has converted one of its routes to the card system only. Once this route is operating smoothly, other routes will be introduced to the card system, said Nkomo.

He said card payments would help to clean up the image of the taxi industry. It would provide an electronic record of income for taxi operators to be able to access finance from financial institutions, it would help formalise working conditions of drivers and other taxi staff, and there would be less of an urge for drivers to speed and drive recklessly.

It would also resolve a number of complaints that commuters often have with taxis, said Nkomo, such as a shortage of change, arguing over fares and drivers not concentrating on driving while having to deal with cash fares.

“Our commuters dream of owning their own cars because they do not want to travel on our taxis.

“We need to change this, so they leave their cars at home and rather choose to use our taxis,” said Nkomo.
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi

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