Free bus, train Beep cards sought for commuters
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade urged AF Payments Inc., a consortium of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Ayala Corp., to give Beep cards to commuters once they buy load, even with the minimum amount they need.
Boy Santos, file
Free bus, train Beep cards sought for commuters
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - October 2, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has called on the consortium that operates the automatic fare collection system in Metro Manila’s trains and EDSA busway to give the stored value cards for free to commuters.

Tugade urged AF Payments Inc. (AFPI), a consortium of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Ayala Corp., to give Beep cards to commuters once they buy load, even with the minimum amount they need.

He said commuters should be spared the burden of having to pay for the Beep card aside from fares. Tugade said commuters still reeling from effects of the pandemic have to shell out an additional P30 to P50 for the price of the card on top of the initial fare load.

“The card should be free. We are still under quarantine measures. Workers who have just returned to work are the main users of the rail system and the EDSA Busway. The P30 to P50 that will be deducted to pay for the Beep card is a big thing for ordinary workers,” Tugade said.

AFPI is behind the tap-and-go payment system beep card. The Ayala-MPIC consortium won the permit to operate an automated fare collection system as a public-private partnership project in 2013.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) started implementing yesterday a “no Beep card, no ride” policy for passengers of the EDSA busway system as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Tugade and other senior officials have agreed that the cost of the Beep cards should not be passed to the commuters.

The DOTr said commuters should also have the option to load the card with whatever amount  needed for fare.

EDSA busway passengers yesterday complained of the cost of the Beep cards.

Passengers at the Bonifacio Monumento bus stop in Caloocan City said the cost of the card is too much for cash-strapped commuters affected by the pandemic.

There was also confusion among passengers who were not informed about the new cashless system that resulted in long queues at the bus stop.

Transport economist Jedd Ugay said the government should step in to subsidize public transportation instead of transferring the cost to commuters.

He said while the increase in Beep card price could be due to operating costs for the cashless payment system, the fare increase may be too much for people affected by the battered economy.

“The move to go cashless to reduce the transmission of the virus is okay. But this time of a pandemic, the government should shoulder the expense, so commuters would not carry the burden,” Ugay said.

The DOTr said it would meet with the consortium to discuss its position on the matter.

Sought for comment, AFPI in a statement did not directly answer whether or not it would heed the DOTr’s call, but instead said beep cards would be sold at P80 starting yesterday.
It pointed out that the amount goes directly to the card manufacturer and not to AF Payments. – Christian Imperio, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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