Pretoria – The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) has entered into a joint venture with SurePaw Technologies to roll out an electronic fare collection and management system (EMS) in the public transport sector.

Jothan Msibi, managing director of Santaco Trading, the commercial arm of the organisation, said the EMS would help to enforce licensing rules, thereby addressing the main cause of taxi violence.

The EMS will monitor the position of taxis, automatically report any deviations and prevent fare collection outside licensed routes.

Msibi said the rollout was planned to commence next month, with a pilot project involving about 150 taxis plying the route between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The mass rollout of the system to about 100 000 taxis on the country’s roads will start next year.

Msibi said the system would not cost taxi operators anything. The project partners would make their earnings from the “click fee”, the small portion of the fare that would be charged every time a passenger used the card.

The “click fee” would go towards running the project, including life insurance for passengers during transit and to the company doing the back-end systems, he said.

Msibi did not expect taxi operators or drivers to resist the implementation of the system.

“The owners want this system and know the benefits. Some of them used it during a pilot project some time around 1998.”

Msibi said a deal had been reached in which Santaco would own between 36 percent and 40 percent of the joint venture company, SurePaw Africa. It would be finalised after the completion of the pilot project.

He said SurePaw Technologies had been awarded an exclusive contract by Santaco to provide the technology solution for implementation of the taxi EMS.

The EMS was developed in South Africa by SurePaw Technologies in close co-operation with Santaco, in line with requirements specified by the national transport department.

It replaces cash fares by a range of smartcard-based payment solutions, leading to greater security for commuters and more convenient travel through seamless interchanges between taxis and other modes of transport.

Msibi said it would lead to drivers being paid market-related salaries, with a package of standard benefits. He said drivers were not paid market-related salaries now because they “skimmed” fare money before paying the operators.