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DOTr threatens to stop use of EDSA Busway Beep card unless given free

DOTr threatens to stop use of EDSA Busway Beep card unless given free

The Department of Transportation said Saturday it will suspend the use of the automatic fare collection system in the EDSA Busway if the operator will not issue “Beep” cards for free to commuters.

Earlier, the DOTr reiterated its call for AF Payments, the consortium that operates the automatic fare collection system being used in the Metro Manila rail system and the EDSA Busway, to drop the P80-fee on the purchase of Beep cards on top of the load need for rides. 

If AF Payment will not immediately remove the payment for the card, the Transportation department said it will otherwise suspend the use of the automatic fare collection system in the EDSA Busway.

“We are asking AFPI to remove the service fee and other charges that total a significant amount for the cost of the card, the payment of which has been an additional burden for passengers,” the DOTr said.

“These are, the ordinary commuters who are still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 and the strictly enforced community quarantines in their livelihood. Thus, they should be spared from this additional burden,” it said.

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 company has since insisted that it does not earn from the sales of Beep cards and that the cost of P80 sold to commuters is already subsidized.

But, the DOTr called on AF Payments to view the card cost fee as part of  their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to help its clients endure the result of the pandemic.

“Further, there are other AFCS providers and other modes of cashless transactions that PUV operators may tap,” it said.

“Thus, should the AFPI refuse to cooperate by allowing the free use of the ‘Beep’ card to commuters upon payment of the fare load, the DOTr will have suspend its use in the EDSA Busway to alleviate the burden of commuters,” it added.

AF Payments refused to comment on the DOTr’s latest statement as discussions are still ongoing with the agency.

“AFPI cannot comment this time as there are ongoing discussions with government,” the company said.

The DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered that public utility vehicles must shift to cashless transactions to minimize, if not, avoid human interaction to reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

The LTFRB is set to issue by next week, a memorandum circular directing all public utility vehicle (PUV) operators not to place the cost of the cashless payment system, especially the AFCS card, to the commuters. —LBG, GMA News