Cape Town - 120930 - Some of the MyCiti Bus stations in Seapoint are nearing completion. PICTURE: DAVID RITCHIE

Cape Town - Passengers using the MyCiTi West Coast route have found a way of cheating the fare system.

Authorities say some passengers, especially those using the feeder routes, were not tapping their myconnect cards, on which cash is loaded and from which the fare is deducted, before boarding the buses.

The city’s transport directorate said it was aware of the problem and would put measures in place to stop the fare evasion “as a matter of urgency”.

The city introduced the myconnect cards last year as a “cashless” way to commute, allowing passengers to load cash on to the cards, similar to loading airtime onto a cellphone. Passengers are then required to tap the card against a device at the MyCiTi bus stations for fares to be deducted before boarding the buses.

But authorities have found that some passengers would either pretend to tap their cards against the device at the bus station or board buses without even having a myconnect card.

Brett Herron, the city’s mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, admitted it was a big problem. He said the city had experienced a challenge with fare evasion and non-payment for trips with the introduction of myconnect cards.

“As such we are putting measures in place to address these issues, such as the installation of gates at the stations and on the buses that require people to use their cards to pay the fare before they are able to board the bus.

“These will be implemented during 2013. Better monitoring of our services and the introduction of technology, such as these gates, will help counteract fare evasion in the MyCiTi system.”

Herron said the new monitoring technology, including entry gates and using CCTV cameras at bus stations and in buses, would only be operational in two or three months.

“There are a few technical issues that need to be resolved but we are addressing it as a matter of urgency,” he said. “The cameras would all be connected to the Transport Management Centre in Goodwood, from where officers and transport management staff will monitor operations.”

Last month, 271 869 people used the MyCiTi network compared to 310 345 during December 2011, when the paper ticket system was in place.

Meanwhile, the MyCiTi roll-out plan for the rest of the city is on track.

Herron said while there had been a “small setback” with the roll-out of the service from Salt River into the city, originally planned for December 1, the roll-out of remaining routes, including the N2 Express way route from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, was on track for this year.

The implementation of the Salt River route was delayed due to objections lodged by Golden Arrow Bus Services and the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the Western Cape.

In August, the city applied for public transport operating licences to have the MyCiTi bus service operate in Salt River and Walmer Estate, but Santaco and Golden Arrow lodged objections with the Western Cape Provincial Operating Licensing Board, delaying the issue of operating licences.

A hearing was set for December 15, but the Western Cape Provincial Regulatory Entity asked for more submissions from concerned parties as there were a lot of queries relating to submitted objections. Herron said the matter was heard last week and that the service would be started as soon as the matter was resolved.

The N2 Express route from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain would be operational by December. The project will cost the city R338 million.

Last year Santaco said their business would be hugely affected.

Thousands of Santaco members protested on the station deck over the city’s failure to consult them on the proposed integrated public transport plans in October.

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Cape Argus