Try better business model

Judy Dadon, Sea Point

As a resident of Sea Point I use the MyCiTi bus daily. Generally my experience is positive.

However, should you experience a problem with your card not working or an incorrect penalty everything goes pear shaped. If you have loaded a large amount of money on your card to benefit from the lower “mover” rate or do not travel near a depot where you can load your card and the chip on your card stops working (which it often does) the refund time is 30 days. Now the passenger has no option but to purchase a new card and reload funds to continue to travel to work and wait 30 days for refund. Can you imagine what pressure that places on minimum paid domestic or retail workers?

The same applies to penalties. Should you get a penalty for countless reasons some could just be due to a genuine error, in my option, caused by a long exhausting work day. It costs more to request a refund of same.

I have often been on the bus going to the waterfront when tourists have been waiting at the bus stops in Sea Point. When they try and board the bus they are advised by the driver that it is not possible without a valid loaded card. They are generally completely unaware of this and offer to pay a penalty as they have been already waiting long – but this is not possible.

I recently travelled to Israel on holiday where I made use of their pubic transport. To travel you may purchase a prepaid card at a reduced discounted price or pay a higher price on the bus. No passenger is turned away from an empty bus.

The real reason for my writing this letter, (however), is my surprise on returning from an extended overseas holiday last week. I again travelled to the Waterfront and when I swiped my card, looked to check my balance. I noticed that the charge had increased and my balance was low. The lady at the kiosk informed me that the price had increased. I (also) noticed that my card was expiring in November and inquired about this. I was informed that due to it being a bank card it expires after a period of time. To get a new card, I would have to take current card and R20 in cash to the civic centre station.

Only there, they give me a new card for R20 and transfer any balance from my old card to a new card. After that date I would no longer be able to travel with an expired card. Now this too fascinates me. I have never paid my bank for a new card once my bank card has expired. I also never travel into the city centre on a MyCiTi bus. I always keep a minimum of R50 on my card as I don’t always have the time to recharge at a station and sometimes the queues at the kiosk can be very long.

So my choices are:

1. Buy a new card and loose my balance

2. Go to civic centre and wait in line.

How pathetic and customer unfriendly.

In Israel bus cards are sold at all shops and kiosks. They have a monetary value and driver punches out the cost of the trip thereby eliminating stupid penalties and card charges. This is done, I’ve been told, by other bus companies. You can purchase a monthly ticket at a discounted rate but pay for a single trip at a higher price. I am sure that most regular commuters will still purchase a discounted ticket leaving the driver vertically cash free. This should also help the call centre with dozens of unnecessary complaints.

blob This letter was sent to the City for a response. When we receive it, we will publish it in the next available edition of Atlantic Sun.