TCT would like to develop an exciting and innovative technology project designed to give commuters in minibus taxis (MBTs) both a “voice” and a “choice”. In Cape Town, there are 15 000 MBTs and 320 000 daily commuters that use them.

When TCT was established it entered into an innovation partnership with SENSEable City Lab (SCL) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Under this partnership, SCL and MIT created the outlines of projects that would push the boundaries of technological innovation and help tackle some of the real transport problems of Cape Town.

At the end of 2013, TCT chose one of these projects with a view to developing it and ultimately bringing it to the market. The project is focused on MBTs although it is capable of being extended to the metered taxi industry as well in the future.

The problem identified was that commuters did not have a means by which they could express their views in a meaningful way about the MBT services they were receiving and did not have an effective choice between the MBT providers they could use.

In addition, the drivers of the MBTs equally did not have a voice. In Cape Town, the owners and drivers of MBTs are usually different people. As a result, the drivers were often as powerless as the commuters.

To address these issues, TCT’s project is to use technology to develop a series of initiatives:

  • To build up a community of commuters that genuinely has a voice. This might be done through an App that allows commuters to express what their MBT experiences were like. In this way, a community of commuters which has the ability to express itself can be created. For Cape Town, this App must be capable of operating with non-smartphones.
  • Once TCT has received the commuters opinions, it will be able to respond to them through its TMC. For example, it could change the routes that certain MBTs are allowed to access. In this way, TCT will put the commuter at the heart of what it does.
  • The next level of the project would be for the development of a device that would be compatible with all types of phones to enable the user to pay for using the MBTs. The commuters’ choice would be enhanced by using the App referred to above to ascertain the satisfaction ratings of all the MBTs. This would, in turn, encourage the MBTs to improve their services.
  • To improve the choice for commuters still further, TCT would then identify particular individuals who would become ambassadors for the commuter community. TCT would then provide these ambassadors with a smartphone and encourage them to share their views and commuting experiences with TCT.
  • In order to give the MBT drivers a voice, TCT will similarly encourage them to become ambassadors on behalf of TCT. TCT is shortly to become the MRE and will be responsible for the regulation of the taxi industry. These ambassadors will then be provided with a smartphone and asked to use them to support TCT’s activities. This might be from taking photographs of potholes through to reporting on accidents, and taking counts of the number of passengers they carry. TCT is seeking interested technology service providers to discuss with them how best to package this project so that it can be tendered in the domestic and international market. Interested parties should email info.tct@capetown.gov.za