An official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) clarified that it was the bus operators who chose to go with BEEP Cards as the mode of contactless payment in accordance with regulations from the Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and guidelines from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
In a Facebook post, DOTr Asec. Goddes Hope Libiran described how BEEP Cards became the preferred cashless payment option for commuters riding the EDSA Busway.
She explained that when the LTFRB came out with the policy, guidelines only indicated that PUVs must implement cashless transactions to protect the health of the commuting public. There was no specific Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) required, it just needs to be cashless.
Current cashless systems aren’t limited to cards though, as some PUVs chose to use GCash, Paymaya, Squidpay, QR codes, among others.
The DOTr official said that the Mega Manila Consortium (operator of the EDSA Busway/Carousel) chose the BEEP Card because it can be used for both the LRT and MRT train systems. And because most bus passengers are also train riders, it makes sense to use a common AFCS that can also be used in the rail lines.
“PUV operator po ang namimili o nagdedesisyon kung anong Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) ang gagamitin nila para sa kanilang operasyon.” Asec. Libiran stressed.
Yesterday, Oct. 1 2020, was the first day that the ‘No Beep Card, No Ride’ policy was implemented for passengers of the EDSA Busway System. The move was made to prevent the traditional exchange of cash for fares and therefore, minimize physical contact between commuters and public transport personnel to reduce their risk spreading coronavirus disease.
However, many passengers complained about the additional P30 – P50 expense for the cost of the card that operators charge on top of the regular bus fare.
In response, DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade ordered the consortium to just give the stored value beep cards to commuters for free upon fare load payment.
“Yung mga pasahero ng EDSA Busway ay mga ordinaryong manggagawa na kababalik pa lang sa kani-kanilang mga trabaho. Hindi na dapat ipakargo pa sa kanila ‘yung presyo ng beep card, bilang karagdagan pa sa pamasahe nila araw araw. Dapat, libre lamang ito kapag bibili ka ng load kahit na minimum lang ang bibilhin mo,” Sec. Tugade said.
The Mega Manila Consortium and AF Payments, Inc. are currently under talks to discuss how to comply with the DOTr’s directive.
For the government’s side, Asec. Libiran says, “Maglalabas din ang LTFRB ng isang Memorandum Circular na siyang mag-uutos sa mga PUV Operator na huwag ipakargo sa mga commuter ang halaga ng AFCS modality na kanilang pipiliin. Dapat, load o pamasahe lamang ang sagot ng commuter.”