DOTr wants multiple card providers for interoperable cashless fare systems
This undated file photo shows a public utility bus with a sign announcing it only accepts Beep cards.
The STAR/Boy Santos, file

DOTr wants multiple card providers for interoperable cashless fare systems

(Philstar.com) - October 5, 2020 - 8:51am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation is eyeing interoperability of cashless transaction systems on public transportation, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said Monday, the first day of the suspension of the mandatory Beep card policy for the EDSA Busway.

The short-lived policy, implemented on October 1, was derailed by issues on cost. Many commuters who did not have the cards yet were surprised to find that they had to pay P80 for the cards on top of the fare for their trip. It was also found that the cards for the bus system are different from those used on the Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit.

Service provider AF Payments Inc. last week said that the cards were given for free before October 1 and that the P80 fee is at zero profit and is already partially subsidized.

The department announced on Sunday that cash transactions would also be allowed on the EDSA Busway for now. It also said it would look for a new service provider.

"Even before the pandemic, the DOTr has been exploring possibilities for cashless transactions," Tugade said on ANC's "Hot Copy". "What is the system all about? You use one card, it can be interoperable with the other modes of transport."

He said that cashless transactions are already being tested at seaports and that the cards could be used on those as well as on trains, buses and the modern jeepneys.

He added that what he wants is for there to be more cashless fare card providers so commuters would have a choice on what provider to use. The payments would then be handled by a central clearinghouse.

"As much as possible, I would like to open it up. Welcome multiple players," he said.

He stressed that the cards should be free to commuters and that they should only have to pay the actual fares.

Tugade said he is confident that that system will be in place by the end of the year.

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