Attempts by public transport operator Algoa Bus Company to reduce instances of theft and corruption along its routes in the Port Elizabeth area are paying dividends.
According to engineering director Andre Brink, the installation of on-board cameras to focus on driver behaviour, together with regular on-road inspections by independent ticket examiners, have resulted in a significant drop in pilferage-related activity, while simultaneously improving passenger safety.
“We are very satisfied with the security measures we have implemented,” Brink says. “The introduction of on-board cameras five years ago changed the way we do business.”
In October last year, the Algoa Bus Company switched service providers and engaged Pretoria-based specialist TickTech to carry out physical spot checks for ticket validity along with digital inspections by means of data recorded by its camera monitoring system. In doing so, TickTech also monitors driver and passenger behaviour, as well as traffic density and adherence to shift timetables.
“The professionalism of TickTech’s representatives and its standard of service have been exemplary,” Brink says. “The quality of inspections, camera monitoring and procedures have proved their worth, resulting in many more instances of pilferage and dishonesty being uncovered than was the case with our previous service provider.”
Louise du Plessis, MD of TickTech, who helped to found the company 15 years ago, says unlawful practices in the public-transport sector cost bus operators significant amounts of revenue.
“Drivers sometimes take money for fares but don’t issue tickets, or perhaps they issue tickets for cheaper routes and pocket the difference. Ticket examiners employed by operators are often in cahoots with drivers. Bribery and corruption is rife and new criminal trends are emerging all the time.
“TickTech prides itself on being at the forefront of reducing risk. We are intent on stamping out dishonest or corrupt behaviour. We’ve helped numerous bus companies over the years, with at least one seeing its ticket income go up by 300 percent as a result of our efforts. However, it’s not only on the revenue side that we offer solutions – we’ve added value in the operational arena, too.”
Brink confirms that in the Algoa Bus Company’s case, route-schedule problems had been brought to his attention and corrected thanks to TickTech’s input, while, in other instances, new routes had been identified. “Good coordination between ground and viewing crews also enabled us to close loopholes in our operations which could have been exploited by criminal elements,” he says.
According to Du Plessis, TickTech provides qualitative business solutions to the passenger-transport industry and entities that sell or use tickets with a monetary value. “The company’s main focus is protection of our clients’ revenue. Our in-depth knowledge, years of experience and commitment to our clients contributes to achieving this goal,” she says.
Amongst others, services include fixed-point inspections; roving team inspections; undercover inspections; digital (camera monitoring) inspections and route and service monitoring. “Our inspectors are well trained and have good communication skills,” Du Plessis says. “We rotate them regularly between clients to prevent relationship building – a common problem among inspectors who work indefinitely for one operator.”
The company also provides statistical analyses of its inspections regarding pilferage and irregular trip related occurrences. It can also provide expert advice on disciplinary and arbitration procedures.
Brink says TickTech’s engagement by the Algoa Bus Company has opened a new dimension of control. “The value of the on-board camera systems monitored by TickTech cannot be quantified. This service enables the operator to take action and address pilferage and general driver behaviour, while enhancing passenger safety and providing a wealth of other useful information.”