Enforce provision on bus fare tickets

11/07/2008 11:35

The Consumer Council of Fiji appreciates the decision by the interim administration not to increase bus fares and instead absorb the cost by providing added concession to bus operators. While the government of the day is expected to fulfil its social obligation to consumers, bus operators are equally expected to become responsible in the manner they conduct and account their business through full disclosure of operational costs. The Council additionally lauds the administration for providing travel relief to senior citizens.

An area that the bus industry should work to improve is the issuance of tickets. There are a great many leakages in the revenue collection of bus operators, given the lack or absence of monitoring and non-issuance of tickets to consumers. Bus operators are aware of pilfering by drivers that is apparently affecting their revenue collection. Yet, no action seems to have been taken to put in place monitoring measures that will reduce the leakage and loss of revenue. As such, bus operators have little or no knowledge of how much money they could actually be earning on a per trip basis. If the leakages had been addressed in the 62 years of the bus industry’s service to Fiji consumers, it would have adequately covered any additional costs to the operators from the rising fuel prices.

The bus ticketing system is the overwhelmingly most complained about issue by commuters. It is the requirement under the LTA Act for bus operators to make provision for tickets to be issued for the payment of fare. Operators are expected to give appropriate instructions to their drivers to issue ticket to every passenger upon the tender of correct fare. Conversely, it is the responsibility of every passenger to demand ticket from the driver. It is important for consumers to seek a ticket for payment of fare, especially in case of loss of any property or overcharging of fare, and or a driver forgetting to give the correct change or even forgetting to give any change at all. Providing consumer redress becomes easy when ticket is produced in such instances. For the bus operators the issuance of tickets will mean compliance with the LTA Act and having transparency and accountability regarding their real income.  

The Council urges LTA and the Fiji Bus Operators Association to ensure and enforce the provision on the issuance of tickets to passengers. Consumers are also urged to demand a ticket when commuting by bus and report any driver refusing to issue a ticket to the owner of the bus company or to LTA.