Public transport users in Kigali are up in arms over the standard fare operators charge regardless of the destination.
Specifically, the electronic billing system — tap and go card — debits a fare equivalent to commuters reaching the final destination.
“It is unfair for a passenger going for instance to Sonatube from Gikondo to pay the same fare as a person going to Kimironko or Remera after boarding any of the buses on the route,” said Musa Mahoro, a passenger who uses public transport buses regularly.
There are over 700 public transport buses in Kigali using the system.
However, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura), a route-based fare system for all public transport buses in town is the best.
Rura defended the system, saying fares are determined by several factors, among them interest of investors and passengers.
“There are many forms of fare, but distance-based, zone-based, and route-based fare are commonly used in the world. We opted to use route-based fare because it was found to benefit both parties,” said Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, principal official in charge of transport planning and development at Rura.
“With route-based fare once the passenger occupies the space there is no any other person to use that space unless the bus has reached its final route destination,” Mr Katabarwa said.
For example, if we were to consider distance-based, where prices are determined by kilometres travelled, passengers traveling short distances will be overcharged. A kilometre would be at around Rwf150 instead of Rwf22 charged on the route-based fare.
“This was likely to bring conflict because a passenger would be charged a lot and transport companies would not agree to charge Rwf22 per kilometre, said Mr Katabarwa.
He stated zone-based fare is tricky to apply because Kigali is small compared with Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam where a passenger can travel for over 20 kilometres within the town.
The system ensures that between one and five kilometres a commuter pays the same amount as the one travelling between six and 10 kilometres.