The Department of Transportation (DOTr) reiterated its call for the AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) to immediately scrap the payment fees for Beep cards, otherwise, it will suspend the automatic fare collection system being implemented in the EDSA Busway.
In a statement on Saturday, Oct. 3, the DOTr urged the AFPI, a consortium of Ayala Group and First Pacific Group which operates the Beep payment system, to remove the service fee and other charges that total a significant amount for the cost of the card.
Beep cards being offered at bus stations costs P180 — P80 for the card and P100 for the load. On top of this, a P5 convenience fee is also being charged for third-party service providers for reloads, while there is a P65 maintaining balance policy.
According to the department, a memorandum circular is set to be issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) next week directing all PUV operators not to place the cost of the cashless payment system to the riding public.
“We call on the AFPI to view the card cost fee as part of their corporate social responsibility to help its clients endure the result of the pandemic,” the DOTr said.
However, should the AFPI refuse to allow the free use of Beep cards, the DOTr said that it will have to suspend its use in the EDSA Busway to alleviate the burden of commuters.
“These are 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 added.
The AFPI earlier explained that the Beep cards were “sold for P80 at zero-profit, still partially subsidized as the full cost upon turnover to buyer is more than P80.”
The AFPI also explained that it does not impose a minimum load, but passengers have to “ensure that there are enough funds on the card for the intended route.”
Since the resumption of public transport operations under the general community quarantine, the DOTr and the LTFRB directed PUVs to shift to cashless transactions to avoid, or at least minimize, physical interaction to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.
The cashless transaction system in the EDSA Busway System was fully implemented by the Department last October 1 through electronic payment provider Beep.
Passengers will have to purchase the Beep card, which is valid for four years, where the fare will be deducted upon tapping at its fare collection machine to provide more convenient ways of paying for the ride.
This system is also being used in Metro Manila’s major railways such as the LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3, as well as some point-to-point buses and modern jeepneys across the country.