OVER the past months, there have been some issues raised about the bus fare cost and structure. There remains some confusion about what rates apply and to whom it applies, and with the recent introduction of e-ticketing it is important to clarify the matter.
E-ticketing is an important milestone in the development of the transport industry in Fiji and the Fiji Bus Operators Association is proud to have worked with government to bring about this achievement.
It is still in its infancy and several issues need to be worked out with the travelling public and the Land Transport Authority. One of the first issues that needs to be clarified before moving on to an explanation of the e-ticketing system is the bus fare structure that applies.
Despite the introduction of e-ticketing, the bus fare conditions under which bus operators charge fares are nothing new.
They have been in place for more than 12 years, having been approved by the Transport Control Board (now the Land Transport Authority) and coming into effect in June 2000.
There are several conditions that apply to bus fares, one of which is that no bus operator can charge more or less than the fare specified for each stage by the LTA.
Any passenger who travels only a fraction of the distance within a stage is obliged to pay the full stage fare.
Children up to five years old are carried free if they are accompanied by an adult and do not occupy a seat. For those children aged between 5 and 12 years and less than four feet tall, half the adult fare to the nearest five cents is charged.
Primary and secondary students in uniform shall pay school bus fare when travelling in a school bus.
In areas where no school buses operate, school bus fare applies to students in uniform travelling on regular service buses.
Where a school bus service is available and school children travel in other buses apart from school buses, they are required to pay adult fare.
At all times, passengers should demand tickets from bus drivers for their journey.
Several weeks into the use of the e-ticketing system now being rolled out across the Central Division, it is clear there are many benefits not only for bus operators but for the public at large.
While there are still some technical and other issues that need to be worked out, the system is already functioning properly on many buses operating to and from the Suva Bus Station.
The new e-ticketing system will create more certainty and transparency in the industry, and help the relevant authorities confidently decide on issues that affect the industry using the data available through the e-ticketing system.
This in turn will help operators improve their services and help build a better, safer transportation system for the Fijian public through improved buses and efficient, expanded services.