Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cetak rompak and going cashless

I've talked about this before. Fare evasion is potentially going to be a problem given Rapid KL's affinity in issuing manual tickets and passes verified by sight.

For the benefit of those who have just joined, I will REPEAT and perhaps further elucidate.
  1. It has been reported that a lot of people on KTM Komuter services don't pay fare. I suspect that many on Rapid KL also don't pay full or sufficient fare.
  2. On Rapid KL's system, manual tickets are not always collected and passes are not always checked. There have been too many incidences when people walk through these manual gates without any officer around.
  3. For buses, there are also plenty of passengers who hop in from the back without paying, when the bus is full. I say that we should give these people a piece of our mind.

Adding on to that, I would also like to point out MORE problems with this and how we should tackle the problem. I don't think these sort of things need to be pointed out by Binafikir and the likes.

[Binafikir's the boys that have been helping Rapid KL and SPNB sort out their business and technical problems. I think they have been doing quite a good job so far :) I hope they can continue to bring these two clients to create a damn-cun system while bringing them to profitability. Remember, for the system to be sustainable, it has to be profitable. Profits mean reinvestment which is good for us.]

The issues:
  1. It is silly to issue manual tickets given we have so many ticket machines. But in typical Malaysian fashion - they are either rosak or only accept coins. (and the RM1 coin is no more).
  2. With holes in the system (the missing ticket checker), I won't be surprised if one day all the stock of magnetic tickets reaches zero. Dahsyat.
  3. It won't take an idiot to produce counterfeit copies of passes (and tickets) like those above. Tickets and passes like these are becoming the norm.
  4. Even worse, I won't be surprised to see copies and booklets of these passes being sold in Chow Kit or Petaling Street. If they can do holograms and LV, this ought to be easy-peasy.
  5. Pass fraud is easily done. Scavangers and junkies would be seen hanging around bus stops searching for used passes that are still valid for the day. Passes can be resold.
  6. Passes can be given away to friends without much difficulty, probably at the end of the day. TnG can also be lent out to mummy, but you're not going to give away your TnG to your colleague.
  7. Station staff are needed at platforms and bus stops more than anywhere else. They shouldn't be wasting time issuing tickets over and over again, everyday.
  8. Issuing manual tickets and passes involve lot's of risk and costs associated with handling cash. Why not allow users to top-up TnG's with cash and passes at ATM and ticketing machines?
  9. Why let bus drivers waste time in the morning issuing daily passes to passengers when their job should be filling up the buses quickly and following a schedule?
  10. Why risk letting buses collect cash? By the end of the day, buses turn into coin boxes on wheels.
  11. The opportunity to collect valuable passenger travel information has been lost. With cards like TnG, journey information can be collected from the very first bus journey you make. This valuable information can be used for Rapid KL to plan better, more direct routes. No? (regarding privacy issues, the cards can also be issued anonymously).

I propose that Rapid KL immediately cease to issue any manual tickets and passes, as well as magnetic tickets as soon as all the Touch 'n Go infrastructure is up and running and proven to work OKAY in all LRT stations and buses.

Everyone ought to have a MyKad by now, so everyone ought to have a TnG card. Those who wish to give up anonymity should purchase a TnG and not register the card, or register it using a fake name (although you thus give up certain rights).

All the passes that are currently being issued should be available in TnG form, and I strongly urge RapidKL and other operators to adopt capping and solve the problem of starting fares.

Cards should be sold at ALL LRT stations, bus terminals, banks, post offices and hopefully at mama shops and 7-Elevens. If any Tom, Dick and Harry can sell mobile phone prepaids, I don't see why cards can't be easily sold and distributed.

All ATM machines at all LRT stations should allow topping up of TnGs and also enabling users to perform other functions, such as purchasing monthly passes into the card. Abolish the 50 sen charge on TnG top ups at ATMs.

In fact, make all ATM machines at ALL places TnG-able.

Install new general ticketing machines (ala Singapore MRT) at LRT stations that accept cash, credit card and ATM cards to also do similar functions as ATMs.

Sell TnGs at airports and other bus and train stations. For example, at KLIA, sell the KLIA Express tickets to KL first-timers in the form of a TnG card. If these people are enterprising enough, throw in discounts for places like KL Tower, Aquaria and the likes. And these tourist passes would be treated like souvenirs, no?

Can you imagine the possibility of not having to touch those yucky one ringgit notes? Or having to dig for loose change? The most realistic way to start this cashless revolution is to start encouraging the use of TnG in public transportation applications.

Sooner or later, it's use can be extended to paying parking (without the bloody 10% charge, and perhaps ala Smart Tag? wow!), payphones, buying newspapers and magazines, vending machines, parking meters, use at Mamaks and coffee shops and McDonald's and RotiBoy.

We have so many wallets that are ready to use this applications, but they are not being encouraged. Please, TnG and Rapid KL, shouldn't you do more to encourage its use?

For transport operators, it's going to mitigate the potential for fare dodging. For us people on the street, it's less yucky money. For TnG, banks and merchants, it's better business for you and cost savings. For Rapid KL and authorities, it's amazing wealth of journey data.

It's ironic for me to advocate this idea when one of the main icons behind our ten ringgit note is a Putra LRT.

(I also hope that Shagadelica's experience has been fixed eversince.)


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