FEATURED: How smart transport has boosted financial discipline in passengers

Happy passengers pose with their Tap&Go cards.

Smart transport is turning out to be an important tool for city dwellers to better manage their incomes; and clients say it is facilitating them not to confuse luxuries with necessities among which is transport.

Unveiled a few years ago, use of Tap & Go, an e-payment solution in public transport, is part of the Smart Kigali Initiative.

The Tap &Go cashless bus fare payment system is operated by AC Group, a local tech start-up, in partnership with three bus companies that provide public transport services within the City of Kigali.

The innovation has already enabled bus companies to cut costs and improve service delivery, among other things.

There is however another aspect to it; enhancing clients’ accountability of their incomes specifically when spending on transport.

“Smart transportation really helps us to account for our money. When people get money, they can take a portion of it and allocate it specifically for transport and it works for them for the planned time,” says Sam Byiringiro, one of the clients of the Tap&Go services.

“Having to pay transport bills everyday can really be challenging to manage, but when you have a card, you can put the money at once and just be swiping every time you want to travel. In this way, you know that you have secured your transport for a long time,” he adds.

Eden Benimana, the chief operating officer of AC Group says that for all commuters, Tap &Go is a way which allows for setting aside a budget for one of the most important daily activities which is travelling.

Expressing how smart transport is helping people account for their money, Benimana gives an example of young students who commute to school using the bus,

“Parents are now loading the cards directly with transport funds for their children. This trend by parents shows a habit of accountability while instilling it in for the young students,” he says.

“The students in turn are held accountable for the Tap &Go card since the funds loaded on it permit them a set number of trips before they can have more funds. This accountability is a lesson we hope they will take into the different responsibilities as they themselves grow and become future parents and leaders.”

During the inception phase of the Tap&Go product, Benimana says that AC Group envisioned a solution which would allow for both inclusion and accountability for all,

“The solution is designed to be accessed by all. With this end in mind, all the benefits of the Tap &Go solution including funds security, inclusivity, and financial accountability, are meant to be enjoyed by all who use our solution,” he says.

Patrick Manzi, a resident of Gikondo is a user of Tap& and Go services. He says that when you load money on the card, it saves you the unnecessary expenditures you would make if you kept your money for transport in cash,

“If you move with cash you can spend much. It is better to put money on the card.”

Garleon Ntambara, another client sees even more benefits with using smart transport,

“It saves time. In the past there used to be delays when it came to the interactions of giving balance to a client. For example, if example ifthe fare was 280, and you had 300, it would sometimes be difficult for a bus conductor to find 20 FRW to give you as balance,” he said.

“This could even lead to conflicts between clients and bus operators since they are hurrying and the process of giving balance is delaying.”

Still talking of finances are Benimana also hinted on the Tap&Go 4G Wi-Fi as one of the services offered on buses, “to ease communication and access to information,” as well as helping the daily commuter not to spend more funds on the internet.