On February 4, Rwanda transport passengers started using a cashless system to pay for transport fares.
According to New Times Rwanda, the public transport companies have been accepting both cash and electronic payments using smart cards.
However, the phase-out of cash payments comes into force last Thursday with Kigali Bus Service taking the lead.
The phase out will be gradual and the initial route that will fully embrace the electronic system is the Kanombe route.
Any passenger leaving Kanombe for either Remera, Kacyiru or the city cente will only be allowed to board the bus if they have a smart card.
Charles Ngarambe, executive chairperson of Kigali Bus Services, told New Times, using a smart card will save passengers a lot of time that was wasted when they would queue up to buy tickets which was only done using cash.
“The cash system was delaying the buses. The use of smart card not only saves time, but also protects the environment and keeps the city clean as we will have gotten rid of paper tickets,” Ngarambe is quoted as saying.
“We sensitised the commuters about the system, we have advertised on radio and other mediums of communication for some time now and we are hopeful they will fully embrace it,” Ngarambe added.
Kigali Bus Services (KBS), Rwanda Federation of Transport Co-operatives (RFTC), and Royal Express were awarded a five-year deal to provide public transport services in 2013 under the new Kigali Transport master plan.
Patrick Buchana, the chief executive of AC Group, said the firm that operates the smart card payment system, said the move will improve service to commuters and help bus operators fully collect their revenues.
“With everyone using a smart card, boarding the bus is much quicker, buses can be properly scheduled and the regulator can monitor movement of buses, how much time they spend on the bus stops, and this will significantly enhance passengers’ experience,” Buchana said.
For now, all passengers who use cash have to pay 10 per cent more than those using the smart card.
Another advantage of the card system is that holders are exempted from queuing up at any of the bus stops.
Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority said it expects the new system to ease monitoring of the public transport system and ensure efficiency.