Prepaid bus tickets: Bus owners urge transparency
The Ministry of Private Transport Services and the National Transport
Commission (NTC) launched a prepaid ticketing service for private buses
last week in partnership with Mobitel and the People's Bank. This is the
second prepaid bus ticketing system introduced by the transport
authorities and in June 2011 a similar service was launched with the
telecommunication company Dialog Axiata. However, this service was
limited to private buses on identified long-haul routes.
The new electronic payment system will cover all 28,000 private buses
and the authorities expect bus owners and passengers to benefit from the
new service. However, private bus owners said a second electronic
payment system was not necessary and what is needed at present is to
address issues in the existing system.
The Chairman of the Private Bus Owners Association, Gemunu Wijeratne
said that the first system introduced in 2011 was not successful as it
could not be expanded to cover all private buses due several reasons
such as technical issues, doubt among bus owners on the transparency of
the transactions, delay in cash transfers and reluctance of conductors
to implement the new system.Therefore, to address these issues and we
had discussions with the Central Bank, NTC and other stakeholders on a
proper auditing mechanism to ensure transparency in the system.
The stumbling block in implementing the auditing system was the huge
cost. The NTC and the ministry should find solutions to these issues and
not introduce another system with the same problems, he said.
Wijeratne said that bus owners feel that there is room for corruption
in the new electronic payment system because bus owners already pay
extortion money to various parties.
Therefore, the electronic payment system should be transparent. “We
should have confidence in the computer system and we don't know how the
system handles our money.” The daily revenue should be transferred to
the bus owner's account at the end of the day. The sale of cards and
ticketing transactions should be handled by separate agencies to ensure
there is no corruption in the system. After addressing these issues the
implementation of the system can be made compulsory, he said.