Solons seek free Beep cards for commuters

Two lady House leaders are calling on government and private entities to provide commuters with free Beep cards.


Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo made this appeal in House Resolution (HR) No. 1272, a few days after hundreds of passengers protested the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) “No Beep card, No ride” policy.

The Beep card, which has a base cost of P80, is used in Metro train lines LRT-1 (Monumento, Caloocan City to Pasay City via Rizal and Taft Avenues), LRT-2 (Marikina City to Manila via Cubao, Quezon City and Sta. Mesa and Claro M. Recto, Manila) and MRT 3 (EDSA from North Ave. in Quezon City to Pasay), as well as the buses on the EDSA Busway.

“It is hereby suggested that the Beep cards should be given to commuters for free, and there should be no usage fee charged on top of the pre-paid load,” said Castelo, who directed her appeal to the DoTr.

The House Committee on Metro Manila Development vice-chairman noted that while the intent to shift to cashless and contactless transactions in order to minimize health risks is laudable, “the cost of a Beep card, which is P180 (P80 plus P100 initial load), is too much for minimum wage earners who often have only the exact fare for the day for their daily commute.”

She said the P80 base cost of the card "can buy two to three kilos of rice plus a can or two of sardines."

“Considering that ordinary Filipinos are still reeling from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there should be no hidden charges for the use of Beep cards. Commuters should pay only the actual fare,” Castelo added.

House Deputy Majority Leader Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera is prodding AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) to provide free Beep cards to commuters taking the Metro Manila rail systems and EDSA Busway.

“AFPI must be reminded that people are doing badly enough already because of the pandemic. This is no time to think about profit," said Herrera, who echoed the growing public clamor to scrap the P80 fee on the purchase of a Beep card on top of the credits.

AFPI is a consortium of conglomerates Ayala Corp. and Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which operates the automatic fare collection system on Metro railways and main thoroughfare.

Responding to criticisms, AFPI claimed that the Beep card is sold at “zero profit” and is “partially subsidized” as the full cost upon turnover to the buyer is more than P80.

But Herrera said the company might as well shoulder the entire cost of the card and make it part of the overhead cost of running the fare collection system.

“Mas maganda siguro na i-fully subsidize na ng kumpanya ‘yung halaga ng Beep card at huwag nang ipasa sa mga pasahero. Tutal, kikita rin naman sila sa paulit-ulit na pagpapa-load ng mga bumili ng card (It would be better for the company to fully subsidize the cost of the Beep instead of passing it on to commuters. They will gain profit from the repeated reloading of credits anyway,” Herrera said.