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The National Council of Public Transportation (NCOPT) is one step closer to implementing a cashless transport system in Saint Lucia, President Godfrey Ferdinand told St Lucia News Online (SNO) today.
Ferdinand said – Transco Limited – the company that was hired to set up the cashless system has already sent a representative here, who has been meeting with various minibus associations island-wide.
“They are beginning to digitally do the bus stops, so they would have enough information for the GPS to pick up the different bus fares, when the system becomes operational,” he explained.
In the meantime, the NCOPT is awaiting some legislative changes in terms of fare collection, so that the council can do a trial run of the new system.
“There will be a six months trial to determine whether the system is compatible with our transport system and to determine whether it meets what the sector is looking forward to,” he explained.
Ferdinand stated that while some minibus operators and owners are still not supportive of the new system, the majority of operators have welcomed the initiative.
Two percent will be deducted from each transaction. .He said .5 percent of each payment will go to the council to finance the monitoring of the cashless system and 1.5 percent to the company.
“There are persons who keep on raising the issue in terms of the percentage they would have to be paying. Some are giving some bogus figures,” he added.
Nevertheless, the NCOPT has started meeting with associations and their members, to educate them about the cashless system and to answer any questions they might have.
A public awareness campaign in relation to the implementation will also be launched, in an effort to raise awareness and to educate commuters of the system.
The council recently signed an agreement with the Gros-Islet Minibus Association, who will be part of the committee to collect the funds raised from the cashless system for the NCOPT.
Asked whether there are any discussions about an increase in minibus fares, Ferdinand said the NCOPT plans to meet with Minister Phillip J. Pierre soon to discuss this and other issues.
The council is looking to implement the cashless system using a card consisting of digital data and fares, similar to that of the telephone card system.
The card, which would be scanned upon entry of a bus by the passenger, will automatically transfer the fare to the driver’s account.
Drivers are expected to benefit from the implementation of this system in a number of ways: collecting fares in an effective manner, greater security and to bring a resolution to conflict over fares.
It will also eliminate the issue of school children losing their money, because the system will make provision for a digital watch that you can scan and a top-up card, so the child can have a card for a week or month with a security code.
Upon subscription, drivers will be equipped with a scanning machine.