Prepaid payment, by nature, makes the lives of users a lot easier since it enables greater convenience, efficiency and security.
These also happen to be some of the duties government has to its citizens and so it makes perfect sense then that the state would implement prepaid systems where applicable. The Johannesburg municipality has adopted this thinking and implemented a prepaid payment system for its Metropolitan Bus Service (Metrobus).
The City of Johannesburg says in order to be a world-class African bus service, “Metrobus will continuously look for ways to grow its business and introduce cost-reducing and efficiency-enhancing methods and technologies”.
The city says Metrobus aims to keep its service affordable, with fare increases remaining within the inflation rate. “It is cheaper to use prepaid tags rather than pay cash.”
The Metrobus prepaid system makes use of colour coded tags for fare payment. These can be purchased at the following Computicket outlets:
- Gandhi Square on Main Street in the Johannesburg CBD
- Cresta Mall on Beyers Naude Drive
- Park Station in Braamfontein
- Shoprite Ridgeway on Rifle Range Road
- Roodepoort Metrobus Depot on President Street
- Rosebank Mall
To obtain a tag, commuters must pay a once-off fee of R49, after which the top-up amount is recorded and deducted as bus trips are made.
Infrequent users can use a ‘stored value’ tag that works like a debit card. The commuter tells the driver the number of zones to be travelled and the amount is then deducted from the tag. The maximum amount on the stored value tag is R500 and it has no expiry date.
Frequent user tags are differentiated by colour and commuters will choose a colour depending on their particular needs, with special rates for pensioners, learners and disabled people.
- Green: adult commuters who use the buses daily. Green tags are available for 52 trips monthly, 44 trips monthly, 14 trips weekly, 12 trips weekly and 10 trips weekly.
- Red: school children can have their tags preloaded with the specific number of bus trips they will need. It is available in a 130-trip term ticket, 44 trips monthly, 10 trips weekly and the stored value.
- Yellow: People with disabilities make use of this tag and it’s valid for three months.
- Black: Pensioners have black tags that are valid for a year and they also receive a 50% discount on their trips.
Commuters forfeit all unused trips after the expiry date.
To activate the tag, the number of zones to be traveled need to be loaded on to the tag. Passengers are restricted to travel within the zones they load. The tag is not restricted to specific calendar weeks or months – it can be used at any time.
If a tag is lost, stolen or misplaced, its loss can be reported and it will be barred from further use. Further precaution is taken by implementation of the 10-minute “pass-back” feature. This means that once a tag is swiped it cannot be used again for 10 minutes. Metrobus has installed this feature to prevent fraud. All tags also have a transfer option, which allows passengers to transfer to a second bus within two hours to complete a journey.
- Security features
- Caters for different needs of commuters
- Can still use cash so if a tag is ‘empty’ and a commuter is not near a Computicket outlet they can resort to cash for that trip
- Expired trips are forfeited