A taxi organization in the South African city of Cape Town could become the country’s first taxi operator to introduce a fare-payment system that accepts prepaid smart cards along with cash.

The Peninsula Taxi Association, which operates 250 taxis in Cape Town, launched a pilot to test the system on Feb. 1, a spokesperson for the taxi operator tells PaymentsSource.

The Tap-I-Fare card payment system test will involve 5,000 closed-loop prepaid smart cards issued for the operator by Absa Bank Ltd., he says. Integrated Fare Collection Services Pty. Ltd. is providing the system.

Taxi drivers using the system have card readers to initiate fare payments. Some 42 readers will be used in the test, the spokesperson says. A customer would need to insert his card in the reader, which would deduct the fare from the prepaid card account.

Consumers will pay nothing to reload their card account during the test, but they might pay some fees once the system rolls out across other routes in the city, the spokesperson says.

They may buy the cards and reload their accounts after the rollout at Absa bank branches and at gas stations and major convenience-store chains.

“There is a cost to buy this card, though,” he says. “The first 1,000 commuters to purchase a card would get it for 10 rand (US$1.30 or 1 euro) and, thereafter it would cost 20 rand during the citywide rollout.”

When fully rolled out, the card would interoperable with the MyCiTi bus service and Johannesburg’s Reya Vaya bus service, which have their own smart card systems, the spokesperson adds.

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