Tap&Go and Its Loopholes

Challenges for AC Group and Partners

Photo by AC Group

WHEN it started two years ago, many thought it was a pipe dream. But AC Group has brought a new model to the transport industry that is meant to change the way we travel. Its model is your regular price tag on items in a mall; you don’t bargain prices, you just tap and move on.

Giving credit where credit is due, the Tap&Go system has proven to provide accountability towards this new drive to a cashless economy. Now people can save and know that the money on their cards is solely reserved for transport. This is a big step for a country thriving to embrace digital payments.

My experience with the Tap&Go system, however, comes with mixed feelings. For the past couple of weeks, I have been travelling Kigali using public transport and I noticed that the system has a few loopholes that could easily be fixed to improve the customer experience.

1 — No way to revert a tap

Although it is designed to be fast, sometimes Tap&Go causes problems and they can’t be reverted. Take an example of a passenger who taps on the wrong bus by mistake. After tapping, it’s over. The money is gone, and it’s a matter of seconds, but, most important, it can’t be reverted — not mentioning tapping twice, thinking the first time didn’t work. I believe this is an easy fix. At least, the bus driver should have the privilege to revert a change on a card that mistakenly tapped onto the machine.

2 — The increase in prices

With the Tap&Go technology, all the trips have been standardized. Contrary to what the old system offered — where you could tell the conductor, a.k.a. convoyeur, that you are only going for a short distance (say from one bus stop to another) and he could reduce the fee, now there is no bargaining with a machine. Take someone coming from kwa Rwahama to Kimironko. It’s only one stop and they have to pay the same amount as someone who came all the way from downtown. (What kind of pricing is that?)

I assume the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has certainly worked with A&C Group on this, but it ought to be revised because everyone owes to pay for what they consumed (It’s not Mutuelle).

3 — Automatic doors and driver alert

In addition to collecting payment, a conductor’s tasks included opening and closing the door but also notify the driver when a passenger reaches their destination. Tap&Go brought an alternative to the collection of payments but not the two other roles. This has proven to be a challenge, and it puts passengers at risk every time the bus takes off. Also, they are always at risk of passing by their destination when the driver is concentrated on driving and doesn’t hear them when they reach their stop. I guess automated doors and driver alerts on passenger seats would rectify this one.

THIS is not denying that A&C Group has done a great job, that almost no one had ever imagined, and is constantly updating its system to meet the needs of customers. As the company looks to expand to other African cities, we can only expect that these few concerns will be addressed in the near future. It is very possible.

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