Pre-paid card system launched for private buses
The Private Transport Services Ministry yesterday launched a new pre-paid card system named 'Sri Lanka Travel Card' for private buses to avoid inconveniences faced by passengers.
The new pre-paid card system was introduced for private bus crew and passengers in collaboration with Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd and People's Bank. Private Transport Services Minister C.B. Ratnayake launching the new pre-paid card in Colombo yesterday said the new system will be implemented in the Wayamba Province parallel to the Deyata Kirula exhibition from February 21.
"We hope to introduce the system to all bus routes in the country with the help of all nine Provincial Passenger Transport Authorities within the next two-three months," he said.
The minister said with the introduction of this system, the commuters' frequent complaint of not receiving balance money properly could be addressed.
He said the National Transport Commission (NTC) received a number of complaints from passengers against private bus crew charging high fares, not giving their balance money and not issuing tickets.
A pre-paid card facility will enable to deal with a growing number of complaints against private bus crew and operators, he said.
The new electronic system will be a boon for passengers, bus owners and conductors, Ratnayake said. This will also help to stop the misappropriation of funds by private bus crew.
He said funds earned by transactions will be directly transferred to the bus owners' account through this system.
Ratnayake said passengers could pay the bus fare with the prepaid card, which is re-loadable. "Each time the passenger with a card gets into the bus, the conductor will use a swipe machine to deduct the fare. Machines will be installed in private and state-run buses. The proposed recharge card will not cost additional charges to the passengers apart from the normal bus fares. It will be a must for every passenger to use this card in the future," he said.
The minister said passengers can purchase pre-paid cards from Mobitel mobile recharge centres of across the country.
"When a commuter boards a bus, he can produce his pre-paid card instead of cash. The system will continuously update the credit balance of the card," he pointed out. Ratnayake said the card will be shortly introduced to Sri Lanka Transport Board buses, trains, three wheelers, school vans and all other modes of transport. This card will also be extended to retail use in the future. NTC Chairman Roshan Gunawardene said the bus owners are provided with loan facilities to purchase the ticket machines needed for this system with the coordination of the People's Bank.
"The pre-paid card system is another step forward under the objectives of the Mahinda Chinthana and this is a historic event in the private bus transport service," he said.