Smart cards not smart enough

TN News

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Smart cards have been used on a pilot basis on two bus routes in Ho Chi Minh City for over a month but only 25 have been distributed.

During the two-year preparation period for the pilot programs, about 7,000 card forms were prepared by bus management units.

But most people still prefer traditional tickets.

Many passengers have complained the procedures to obtain such cards are complicated while the cards themselves aren't that effective.

There are only two centers where passengers can apply for the cards, one in downtown HCMC and the other in District 5. Each commuter has to provide identity information, a photo, a fee of VND30,000 (US$1.6) and pay an amount of money for usage. And they will have to return to one of the two centers to refill the cards when they've used up all the initial money.

Currently, smart cards and traditional tickets are used at the same time and it's hard to persuade passengers to switch to smart cards.

In terms of prices, bus fares are the same for smart cards and paper tickets.

In terms of convenience, smart cards have only been piloted in two bus routes while tickets are used in every route.

Passengers say the procedures should be made easier and quicker with passengers not having to provide identity information and photos. The smart cards should be similar to phone cards so that passengers just buy the cards, fill their accounts with money and use them.

Vietnamese bus management agencies should learn from what their Korean counterparts are doing in Seoul.

The Korean capital is using T-money, a smart card which can be used to pay fares for pubic transportation means including buses, taxis and subways. T-money can also pay for parking, and tolls as well as for purchases at some convenience stores.

Customers just need to buy T-money at ATMs, choose the nominal value and pay a deposit of 500 won. When they have used up the money in the cards, they can use the ATMs to fill up their accounts with more money. In case they don't want to use the card any more, customers just return the cards at the deposit refund device and receive their 500 won back.

T-money cards have helped Seoul cut down on the amount of paper used for printing tickets, and in reducing state budget spending.

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