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Durban buses get smart

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Durban bus commuters will soon be able to pay for their bus fares via a public transport smartcard called the Muvo card. The introduction of the card is the first large-scale cashless transit tariff system introduced to the city and will eventually be available for use on other transport forms like trains.

Durban’s public transport system is about to get a 21st century face-lift. The introduction of the city’s first large-scale cashless transit tariff system, in the form of the public transport smartcard (the ‚Muvo card‚ ), is set to redefine the way commuters here pay their bus fares. Launched last month at the Moses Mahbida stadium by his Worship the Mayor James Nxumalo, the smartcard will be rolled out to commuters using the city’s buses early next year.

This is the first phase of eThekwini’s journey towards implementing its Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN). The implementation of IRPTNs throughout South Africa has been legislated by the National Department of Transport (NDoT).

Initially the Muvo card will be used on Durban Transport buses only but as the IRPTN is phased in, the smartcard will eventually be usable on all modes of public transport, including trains. The IRPTN is intended to make eThekwini Africa’s most liveable and caring city by the year 2020.

The Muvo card was developed in partnership with the NDoT, transport IT specialist Almex and Standard Bank’s payment innovation unit Beyond Payments. Beyond Payments developed and supplied the ‚tap and go‚ smartcards and ensured they comply with MasterCard certification standards. Almex provided the ticket machines and scanning devices aboard the buses and at the self-service kiosks where credit can be loaded onto the smartcards.

In addition to using the Muvo card, which functions as an ‚electronic wallet’, on public buses, commuters will also be able to use the smartcard at retail outlets to buy groceries and other goods and services.

The Muvo card will be piloted on the People Mover buses for six weeks starting in February next year. During this time, the 23 People Mover buses will be kitted out with electronic ticketing devices and the ‚tap and go‚ cards will be issued to commuters. It will be possible to buy the cards and load them with money at ticket-selling kiosks along Durban’s inner city bus route. Once cash has been loaded onto the Muvo card, the commuter will pay for their bus trip by tapping their card against the electronic ticketing device installed on the bus.

Following the pilot phase on People Mover, the Muvo card will be rolled out to all other Durban Transport buses from around April 2012, reaching commuters in Umlazi, Ntuzuma, Kwamashu and Rossburgh. The ETA will embark on an extensive publicity campaign, by engaging with passengers at bus terminals, ticket offices, shopping centres and other public areas to educate commuters about how the the Muvo card works. Muvo brand ambassadors will be at these areas handing out pamphlets and teaching commuters how and where to buy, load and use their cards.

The brand name, identity and design of the new smartcard, reflects the eThekwini Transport Authority’s (ETA) dynamic vision as well as the energy and excitement of a vibrant city on the move.

ETA engaged with passengers on the buses to get their views with regards to the brand name and the Muvo name received a very favourable response.

With convenience a defining feature of the Muvo card, the ETA will be adding to existing ticket offices and increasing the number of mobile ticket selling vehicles to make it easier for commuters to buy their Muvo cards. Passengers will also be able to buy and top up their Muvo cards at Sizakala centres around the city and, in future this facility will also be available from selected retailers.

Pensioners, people with disabilities and scholars will also be catered for with the new system through a concession card programme that will follow a simple and convenient application process.

Commenting on the implementation of the card, Thami Manyathi, head of the ETA, said: ‚Durban joins a number of other cities around the world that are using automatic fare payment systems, such as Curitiba, Singapore and Bogota. We are proud to see our city ranking among major cities around the world in this initiative.‚

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