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Gauteng intros cashless payment for taxis

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The cashless payment system brings disruptive innovation to the taxi industry, says Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi.
The cashless payment system brings disruptive innovation to the taxi industry, says Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi.

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, in partnership with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and various blue chip business partners, has introduced FairPay, an electronic fare collectionsystem for minibus taxi commuters.

According to the department, the taxi e-ticketing system aims to take cash out of the taxi industry, to provide a safe and convenient payment solution for all South African taxi commuters.

It will initially be introduced on the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Mabopane route in February, and will be expanded to other taxi routes, with the aim of completing a national rollout within five years.

Speaking at the Bosman street taxi rank in Pretoria yesterday, Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi said the introduction of the card-based system is the department's first step towards the formalisation of the taxi industry, to integrate all the different modes of public transport in the province into one cashless payment system.

"The Gautrain and Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system use the e-ticket system; mini bus taxis will now also have their own e-ticket. Our vision is to create a 'one province, one ticket' system which aims to integrate all the different public transport payment systems onto one platform where commuters will use one ticket for different modes of transport.

"In many ways this is a disruptive innovation in the taxi industry. Technology is here to disrupt traditional ways of doing things. As with the BRT system, there will be some drivers who will prefer to collect cash and others who will be happy to implement this system. We cannot object to technological innovation because it improves the quality of our lives," he pointed out.

This strategy, explained Vadi, will help the department to collect data such as the number of passengers who commute between the different cities in the province. Taxi operators will also benefit from automated bookkeeping and improved business and tax compliance.

The initiative coincides with the October Transport Month campaign by the provincial government under the theme: "Modernisation of public transport in Gauteng".

The taxi e-ticketing system, which has been under development over the last five years, is owned and being implemented by FairPay, of which TaxiChoice - the commercial arm of Santaco - is currently the sole shareholder, with Curve Group Holdings as the primary technology partner.

According to FairPay, commuters will be able to load money onto their FairPay card at any kiosk located at the taxi ranks. Upon boarding the taxi, they will tag their card on a device which is attached near the door of the taxi. The funds, which are predefined according to the taxi destination, will be automatically deducted from the card.

Each taxi has a permit which is pre-recorded onto the payment system to determine which route it travels, and how much will be deducted.

"Once the funds are deducted, they are electronically transferred into a central bank account, where they are managed by the bank. The taxi operators are then settled by the banks out of their float account twice a week," says FairPay.

Jothan Msibi, executive chairman of TaxiChoice, says the switch to cashless payments is a quantum leap towards achieving objectives which taxi operators could only dream of in the past.

"This project will see the taxi industry take better control of its economy and participate in an arena that has largely been dominated by old monopoly capital. Taxi drivers, most of whom are not creditworthy, will now have proof of their income in the form of a payslip, and taxi owners will be able to gather all the relevant data around the fares collected daily and provide them to SARS.

"This will allow them to accurately calculate their tax payments as opposed to the current system where tax payment is calculated according to the number of taxis an operator owns," noted Msibi.

The system will also offer benefits to the commuter: the equipment installed in taxis contains a GPS device, and can act as a WiFi hotspot, providing commuters with Internet connectivity while they travel, he explains.

"Another benefit for commuters, is that upon making transactions using their FairPay cards, they will immediately qualify for accidental death cover of R25 000, permanent disability cover and ER24 emergency assistance. No other mode of transport offers the same benefits to their passengers in SA," he concluded.

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