A large part of our visitors are looking for information about Fiji and one of the most viewed pages is about how to use the bus system. It is the main way that travelers (and locals) get around. However, there has been a major change in the system that is due to be rolled out by October 2017.
According to Fiji Village,
From 1st October, no cash payment of bus fares shall be allowed on public buses as the travelling public will only be able to pay their bus fare using an e-Transport Card.
Fiji tried to roll this out a few years ago and it was a complete failure (and I do mean a complete failure). However, the government is dead on the concept because it will help them get move tax money from the companies. More paper trails means less questionable tax returns.
How will riding the bus work?
There will be cards that you can buy just like you are topping up a phone that will have the value between $2 and $100 each. You will get on the bus and scan it for your trip. The money is taken off your card and credited to the bus company you are using using GSM technology.
I am not sure how well it will work in practical terms but this is what they want people to do. I guess the good thing for travelers is they do not have to worry about having change all the time for every small trip to Nadi.
I assume this will be only for local trips around Suva and Nadi. I do not think they can get the companies doing the long haul across the island to agree to it. However, I could be wrong on that. Pacific Transport was very much against it last time.
The devil in the details
What I assume will be the problem for travelers is they are not always close to a shop to get a new card or to top up. This means the the mobile company running this will have to make sure every hostel in the country has the ability to sell people credit or it will be a failure.
Let’s assume someone is at Club Oceanus and they want to go to the market in Navua. If they do not have credit but only cash ($1.20 is the fare), they will not be able to get it close by. They might be able to walk up to the Art Village and get it….if the store at the Art Village has any credit!
As you can see, this is not tourism friendly or traveler friendly. I am not sure why the Ministry of Tourism is not standing up to the government and making sure they realize that this is not a smart move. However, not everything in Fiji does make sense. It never has.