2 February, 2018, 12:00 am
Premila Kumar, the Consumer Council chief executive officer, has been quick to jump to the defence of disposable bus cards (The Fiji Times, January 31) as the right of consumers, while failing to address the irony of a supposed “cashless” fare system actually dealing in cash.
I agree that there should be disposable cards. The point of my letter was that it should not be forced upon drivers to have to deal in cash now that we have an electronic ticketing system. Keep the purchase and sale of disposable cards off the buses and with retail agents (including community canteens, shop and hotels) otherwise we should revert to the old system.
Disposable cards are causing more problems than they have solved, including the question of how consumers can reclaim balances left on a card of less than 68 cents, the fare for a single stage. Even if people can reclaim the balances, who would go through the trouble of trying to redeem a few cents? So what happens to all those unredeemed balances?
Topping up phones with credit is second nature to many people. Disposable cards should be as easy to purchase at any location that sells phone top up. This is even more so now that Digicel outlets are also able to top up eTransport cards.
Drivers are feeling the brunt of dealing with abusive passengers who demand to pay for a $2 disposable card using high denomination notes for which drivers understandably do not have change. Unscrupulous passengers are taking advantage of this loophole.
It has been three months since the introduction of electronic ticketing and perhaps Ms Kumar should focus her efforts on consumer education that helps bring about behaviour change towards topping up eTransport cards.