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AC Group upgrades inter-city transport payment solution

A passenger uses a Tap&Go card as he boards a bus in Kigali. / Photo: File.

Ordinarily, to secure a trip by bus out of the city involved making a prior trip to the bus park to book and pay a ticket. This is time-consuming and drives up costs for passengers involved.

At the end of 2019, AC Group, a Rwandan Tech firm enabling payment in public transport introduced an intervention to improve the convenience through their Tap&Go intra-city solution.

 

The firm, which commenced digitizing payments in public transport buses in 2015, rolled out an inter-city solution at the end of 2019 to create a convenient way to book and pay for travel across the country as they do for city transport on public transport.

 

This allows users to book their tickets for inter-city travels from wherever they are using the Tap&Go Application. With an estimated over 300,000 daily users of public transport in intercity routes, the system aims at improving efficiency and quality of services without driving up costs of operation.

 

Using the Tap&Go App, passengers do not have to make unnecessary trips to the bus park to book their tickets and can book their travels on their mobile phones from anywhere and just go when the time of departure comes.

Eden Benimana, the Tap&Go Chief Operating Officer said that a passenger will be able to get information on current and upcoming trips, get on Tap&Go Ride (taxi moto), to get to the bus park and pay for all the options with one Tap&Go card, all incorporated in the Tap&Go solutions.

The solution allows for consistent scheduling for every departure as well as real-time information on availability schedules per route and respective bus companies.

The solution also has options for booking a ticket online via the Tap&Go app or web as well as paying for tickets using cashless payment platforms.

The solution, Benimana said is also developed based on their years of experience in the local market picking lessons and improving their understanding of consumers.

Among the key lessons that have gone into designing the new inter-city solution is the importance of team and innovation.

“Implementing Tap&Go intra-city helped us understand not only the value of building an excellent team but also how to effectively retain talent. Excellent systems and top notch operations are all built by teams, our experience with this has been primordial in expanding our services across the public transportation spectrum,” Benimana said.

The firm has also picked lessons on innovation trends in technology that are constantly changing in much the same manner as the needs of the passengers they serve.

“This is why we repeatedly listen to our stakeholders’ needs to innovate and evolve to make our services more convenient for our clients,” he said.

The firm is always seeking feedback and additional knowledge to improve the model rolled out.

“Regardless of the experience and the learnings that we have had in the last five years, we know that we are yet to learn much more, especially as we venture into the intercity market and other markets beyond Rwanda. This is the mindset that we carry with us in everything we are doing both as individuals and as a team,” he said.

For public transport companies operating in intercity transport, the solution will among other things curb revenue leakages that are synonymous with operators.

In their city operations, Tap&Go was able to curb revenue leakages which were estimated at about 20 percent to 40 percent for bus companies operating i stemming from cash transactions.

AC Group is aiming to have a similar impact for inter-city operators and consequently a growth in their revenues.

The system will also generate data for analytics that will allow transport operators to leverage the insights to adjust their services to grow their businesses. The data generated will allow route predictability informing fleet management thus keeping costs for operators.

The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority said that the development builds on the progress that has been achieved and is in line with the desired outlook of public transport systems across the country.

Director of the RURA Transport Division Tony Kulamba said that the inter-city transport solution borrows a leaf from the experience and impact the Tap&Go system has had in Kigali.

He said that it will expand the efficiency of the system to the rest of the country leading to multiple impacts including adoption of cashless payments.

Beyond customer convenience, he added that public transport companies will curb revenue losses associated with cash and use data generated to improve the efficiency of their services.

Public transport users who spoke to The New Times say that the development will improve convenience as one can pay for all public transport with a single card and save up on funds that would have otherwise been spent getting to the bus park to book tickets.

Maria Umutoni who works in Kigali and regularly travels upcountry to support her family’s business said that with the inter-city transport solution, will allow her to optimize her day when buying tickets, reducing time and costs incurred in the process.

“For instance, when going upcountry, all I will be doing is making virtual bookings and payments and only showing up at the time of the trip. Paying it through one card makes it even more convenient,” she said.

Speaking to The New Times at Nyabugogo bus park, Marcel Munyabugingo said that the system will enable one keep track of all their transport expenditure (from moto, city routes to upcountry routes) as it can all be paid via one system also allowing one to keep track and manage their expenditure.

The Tap&Go Application is now available for download on both Android and iOS.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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