Public transport passengers in Rwanda have begun using cashless system to pay for transport fares, The New Times reports.
The public transport companies have been accepting both cash and electronic payments using smart cards; however, the phaseout of cash payments came into force yesterday with Kigali Bus Service taking the lead.
The phase out will be gradual and the initial route that will fully embrace the electronic system is the Kanombe route.
Any passenger leaving Kanombe for either Remera, Kacyiru or the city cente will only be allowed to board the bus if they have a smart card.
Speaking to The New Times, Charles Ngarambe, executive chairperson of Kigali Bus Services, said using a smart card will save passengers a lot of time that was wasted when they would queue up to buy tickets which was only done using cash.
“The cash system was delaying the buses. The use of smart card not only saves time, but also protects the environment and keeps the city clean as we will have gotten rid of paper tickets,” Ngarambe said.
“We sensitised the commuters about the system, we have advertised on radio and other mediums of communication for some time now and we are hopeful they will fully embrace it,” Ngarambe added.
Kigali Bus Services (KBS), Rwanda Federation of Transport Co-operatives (RFTC), and Royal Express were awarded a five-year deal to provide public transport services in 2013 under the new Kigali Transport master plan.
So far, KBS has been at the forefront in embracing the cashless system, but the stakeholders are optimistic the other companies will join in once they have appreciated the advantages.
Patrick Buchana, the chief executive of AC Group, the firm that operates the smart card payment system, said the move will improve service to commuters and help bus operators fully collect their revenues.
“With everyone using a smart card, boarding the bus is much quicker, buses can be properly scheduled and the regulator can monitor movement of buses, how much time they spend on the bus stops, and this will significantly enhance passengers’ experience,” Buchana said.
He added that using cash was tempting for bus operators leading to losses for the shareholders of the transport companies.
AC Group aims at building an efficient transport system where commuters enjoy public transport to work in the morning without fear of being late, avoid long lines and help government make more informed decisions using real figures provided by the electronic system, referred to as Tap&Go.
According to AC Group, 90 percent of the commuters from Kabuga now use the smart card system, which is proof that Rwandans are ready to embrace modern technologies to ease their lives.
For now, all passengers who use cash have to pay 10 percent more than those using the smart card. Another advantage of the card system is that holders are exempted from queuing up at any of the bus stops.
Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority says it expects the new system to ease monitoring of the public transport system and ensure efficiency.