Johannesburg - The taxi industry is set to launch an electronic fare collection system (e-ticket) for minibus-taxi commuters in Gauteng early next year that embraces the vision of Gauteng having a single ticket for an integrated transport system.
The card-based e-ticketing system has been under development for the past five years and is owned and being implemented by FairPay, whose sole shareholder is the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) commercial arm TaxiChoice, with Curve Group Holdings as its primary technology partner.
Ismail Vadi, the Gauteng MEC for roads and transport, said on Monday at a live concept demonstration of the system in Pretoria that they had decided to endorse and support the system because it was part of their vision to have one ticket for Gauteng whether a commuter used Metrorail, the Gautrain, the bus rapid transit system, Metrobus, the Tshwane bus service or a taxi.
Vadi said the government had been working with their platforms on such a system and had consciously not involved the taxi industry because it was complicated, “but the taxi guys have outsmarted us”.
“They are offering a solution that meets national standards and specifications so it allows for the integration.”
Vadi said from the government’s perspective, the technology could serve as a planning tool by providing vital information on commuter movements.
The first phase of the project involves the rolling out of the system in February on the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Mabopane (JPM) route.
Santaco’s president, Phillip Taaibosch, said the system was optional and would be rolled out on a route-by-route basis in Gauteng before being introduced in other provinces.
Jothan Msibi, the chairman of TaxiChoice, said the system was scalable and they hoped to expand it by offering it to the rest of Africa.
He said the system would allow commuters to pay for their fare using either an EMV national transport department compliant bank card, their cellphone or a paper coupon.
Msibi said it was a level-four banking standard system that would assist in making the taxi industry’s transport services more efficient, reliable and safe. “We therefore expect this to attract more commuters to use taxis.
“Despite all the negative feedback from the public, we remain steadfast in our main objective, which is to provide safe, reliable, effective, co-ordinated, integrated and environmentally friendly transport to the citizens of the country.
“The system we are launching today is a quantum leap towards achieving our objective,” he said.
Msibi said there were many benefits from the system, including that it removed cash from taxis and indirectly immediately brought the expenditure of more than 16 million taxi commuters, including those who were unbanked, into the formal banking grid.
For the first time, from the first tap of the card, commuters would while in transit have free benefits, he said.
The benefits included R25 000 accidental death cover, R50 000 permanent disability cover, ER24 emergency assistance and R200 a day in hospital after the first 48 hours for up to 180 days.
Fred Baumhardt, the chief executive of Curve Group, said the system provided visibility so that taxi owners, future operators and drivers could provide proof of income, which would enable them to access credit.
Baumhardt said the system also allowed them to create other value added services, including allowing commuters to buy electricity and airtime in the taxi.
This would expand and create new revenue streams for taxi drivers because they would get commission on these transactions.