With fuel prices spiraling, South Africa’s bus fleets have a major opportunity to save millions of rands per year and increase passenger numbers by delivering a safer, more reliable service using smart technology, according to an article in IT Web.

According to the article, Steven Sutherland, MiX Telematics’ sales director for Africa – Fleet Services, the bus industry is one of the biggest fleets on South Africa’s roads, and more efficient systems would allow operators to make real savings in operating and maintenance costs. He argued that the same applies to local metro bus services, many of which are plagued by recurrent deficits, resulting in service cuts because of insufficient resources.

The MiX technology collects and transmits vehicle data, including vehicle location and status, driver identity, fuel usage, distances travelled, as well as trip start and end points. Fleet managers can also use mobile apps, available on iPhones, Androids, and Blackberrys, to keep tabs on their drivers and their fuel usage.

Sutherland also noted that fleet managers are struggling to balance fleet budgets due to constant and volatile changes in fuel prices. However, he added, the biggest issue surrounding fuel costs is the uncertainty of future prices and most fleet managers are resigned to the fact that fuel prices will remain elevated.

While the technology can go a long way to achieve a fleet’s cost-containment goals, Sutherland told IT Web that it is important to involve drivers, and, if applicable, unions, from the beginning.