The Department of Transportation reiterated its call for the consortium that operates the automatic fare collection system being used in the Metro Manila rail systems, and on the EDSA Busway to give the “Beep” or beepTM cards for free to commuters, saying it will only be during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran said that the DOTr is still negotiating with AF Payments Inc. and Mega Manila Consortium to make the beepTM cards free for commuters.
AF Payments — the consortium composed of conglomerates Ayala Group and First Pacific Group — operates the automated fare collection system in the LRT1, LRT2, MRT3 and the EDSA Busway.
The Mega Manila Consortium, on the other hand, is the operator in charge of the EDSA Busway system.
“I-charge nila sa corporate social responsibility nila. We are not asking them to give it for free forever ngayong pandemic lang. Matindi po ang impact ng pandemic sa atin eh,” Libiran said.
“Under negotiation pa po ‘yan. Ang position at stance ni Secretary Arthur Tugade at ng buong DOTr ay dapat po libre ‘yan kasi paulit ulit sinasabi na hindi dapat ipakargo nung service provider ‘yung cost ng system nila doon sa mga pasahero kasi nga po nasa pandemic tayo. Ngayon ‘yung P80, P50 or even P100 na sinisingil para sa issuance ng card ay pamasahe na po ‘yan eh, allowance na po ‘yan ng mga ordinaryong manggagawa... kakabangon pa lang nila so malaking bagay ‘yan,” she said.
Tugade called on AF Payments to give the Beep cards for free to commuters to ease the burden to consumers, who are reeling from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Transportation chief also wants commuters to have the option to load the card with the amount they need for the fare.
In a Senate hearing, Tugade reiterated his call to make the automated fare collection system tap-in card free of charge.
AF Payments has since insisted that the company does not earn from the sales of Beep cards and that the cost of P80 sold to commuters is already subsidized.
Libiran said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will release a memorandum circular next week, directing public utility vehicle operators not to pass the cost of automated fare collection system to their commuters.
She said the DOTr is also studying the possibility of tapping a different automated fare collection system provider for the EDSA Busway should negotiations with AF Payments fail.
The Transportation department will also consider the use of drop boxes wherein passengers will drop the exact fare for their ride. —LBG, GMA News