September 16, 2021

125,000 free Beep cards for ‘people in need’


125,000 free Beep cards for ‘people in need’

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) – October 6, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Following criticism over the cost of its Beep cards, AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) – the operator of the Beep card used for carousel buses along EDSA – said yesterday it would give away 125,000 free cards to “people in need.”

AFPI said it would also upgrade its system to enable the use of QR paper tickets.

“This offer has been made possible by our shareholders and business groups, who graciously donated the needed funds to pay for up to 125,000 free cards,” the firm said, adding that it is still working on how it would determine the recipients of the free cards.

The consortium was criticized after EDSA Busway passengers were required to buy a Beep card worth P180. The card itself cost P80 while the minimum load was P100.

AFPI said the price of the Beep cards covers only part of the cost of logistics, production, initialization, printing and distribution.

The firm said even if the cards continue to be sold at P80 for the next 12 months, it would not make any profit and would actually subsidize the operation of the automatic fare collection system.

Paper, electronic tickets

AFPI would stop issuing free Beep cards as soon as the QR code ticket system is in place.

The firm said it has offered to bus operators a system upgrade that would allow passengers to use a QR ticket, which has no cost attached and will only require the payment of exact fare.

The system upgrade would also be able to accept mobile phone-based QR tickets that can be generated from bank applications or electronic wallets, AFPI said.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) suspended the mandatory use of Beep cards at the EDSA Busway yesterday after the government and AFPI failed to reach an agreement on the government’s proposal to give the cards to commuters for free over the weekend.

The suspension allowed commuters using the EDSA Busway to again use cash to pay for their fares.

The “no Beep card, no ride” policy for passengers of the EDSA Busway was implemented last Thursday as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“I ordered the mandatory use of Beep cards to be suspended for at least five days because there is a fee. I don’t want it to have a fee,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in an interview with ANC yesterday.

Tugade said the DOTr is eyeing to have in place by yearend stored value cards that can be used in any mode of public transportation.

He also wants to open up to multiple players so that the option of what card to use is in the hands of passengers.

President Duterte is opposed to additional charges for the Beep cards, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

“The President was moved by the report that many of our poor countrymen were shocked because their money was just enough for their fare and their food for that day,” he said. – Alexis Romero, Delon Porcalla

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