Pay your bus fare with prepaid smart card
A prepaid smart card facility and a passenger care hot line are among the new measures the transport authorities are introducing to deal with a growing number of complaints against private bus crew or operators.Private Transport Services Minister C.B. Ratnayake said tenders had been called for the supply of smart cards for launching the project shortly.
The smart card would be like a prepaid phone card or a debit card. Each time the passenger with a smart card gets into the bus, the conductor will use a swipe machine to deduct the fare. The machines, the Sunday Times learns, will be installed in both prvate and state-run buses.
The minister said he was taking these steps after private bus operators unions accused him of being corrupt.
Mr. Ratnayake said the hotline was already in operation though it was originally intended for bus operators to lodge their complaints. “The hotline 1955 is now going to be a customer care complaint facility for the commuter to make a complaint,” the minister said.
He assured that swift and tough action such as the cancellation of the route permit would be taken if a charge made by a commuter against the bus crew was proved.
National Transport Service Commission (NTC) Chairman Roshan Gunawardene said the complaints the commission received centred on charging higher fares, not giving balance money, rude behaviour by conductors, broken air conditioners, taking more passengers than allowed, not issuing tickets, the use of unroadworthy buses, reckless driving, competition between buses, drivers without licences, playing the radio on high volume and not displaying destination boards.
Data released by the NTC in June showed a spike in the consumer complaints against private buses when compared to last year’s figures for the corresponding period.During the first six months of this year, the NTC had received 3,104 complaints whereas the number of complaints for the first six months of last year was 2,586.
Mr. Gunawardene said the commission would warn the conductors and the driver if the complaint was of a minor nature. However, he admitted that the NTC was unable to address complaints such as not issuing of tickets and charging commuters higher fares. He said such complaints were a matter for provincial transport authorities to deal with.
Private Bus Owners Association President Gemunu Wijeratne said he wanted the NTC to come up with a joint timetable for state-run and private buses so that they could provide a quality service and avoid unnecessary problems.
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