STAKEHOLDERS of the new e-ticketing system, which is being trialled for the next three months, yesterday defended their decision regarding the pricing issue of cards.
Land Transport Authority (LTA) chief executive officer Naisa Tuinaceva said cards would improve the system and increase returns to bus operators.
The new e-ticketing system will cost the estimated 450,000 bus travellers in the country a minimum of $10 each to obtain a card, and passengers are expected to pay a minimum of $5 to top up their card.
Those who lose their cards will be expected to pay $15 for a replacement.
The pricing structure has generated a lot of interest from members of the travelling public who say the costing will be another burden on poor families, majority of whom use the bus for transportation.
"I'm aware that some concerns have been raised by members of the public about the price of the cards but we are convinced that there is a genuine cost to the cards which is about $17.25," Mr Tuinaceva said.
"The $10 price to the public is a discounted and below cost offer." Mr Tuinaceva said the card would only be discounted to $10 for the next three months and increased to $15 thereafter.
He called on the public to look at the benefits that would flow to them from a more transparent, better accounted and fair ticketing system as opposed to the low $10 cost of the card.
"The savings will help the operators improve their bus condition while a certain portion of the money will go to government through VAT and other costs which will be used for other government projects."
Mr Tuinaceva said bus operators would save about 30 to 40 per cent from the system.
Fiji Bus Operators Association president Richard Lal said the industry would save a lot of money from the system.
Mr Tuinaceva said one card could be used for multiple payments of fares as long as there were enough funds available.
However, Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar said this was provided if, for instance, family members all travelled at the same time.
She said for a family of five, they would use $50 for the card alone and minimum $5 recharge which was unacceptable and could not be afforded by some families who were already struggling.