LTFRB vows to obey Duterte’s order to give Beep cards for free

Published October 6, 2020, 9:51 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said it will comply with President Duterte’s order to assure that Beep cards will be issued free of charge to commuters.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, LTFRB Technical Division Head Joel Bolano said the agency is set to issue a memorandum circular on the matter which is expected to be released this week.

“Yung guideline ay ginagawa na ngayon and definitely ang isa sa mga nakalagay ay gawing free ang mga cards na gagamitin para sa mga pasahero alinsunod sa directive ng Pangulo,” Bolano told reporters.

(The guideline is being crafted now and definitely included is an assurance that cards will be distributed for free to passengers in line with the directive of the President.)

According to Bolano, the Board would also meet with various automatic fare collection service (AFCS) providers to discuss the free distribution of cards, as well as the possibility of an interoperable card that could be used for different transport systems.

Meanwhile, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran said cashless transactions in public transport should be able to operate in an “integrated manner” and should be interoperable before yearend.

“Ang sabi ni Secretary Tugade, there should be no monopoly and we need to open the AFCS to all providers but they should be able to integrate and operate the system for free,” Libiran said.

Libiran explained that the Department plans to accept multiple service providers but their systems should be ready for integration, while there will only be one clearinghouse to assure that no company would control the automated fare system.

The DOTr fully implemented a “No Beep Card, No Ride” policy on October 1 for passenger buses at the EDSA Busway to avoid or at least minimize physical interaction in public transport to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.

However, the policy has been suspended on Monday after the AF Payments, Inc., a consortium of Ayala Group and First Pacific Group operating the Beep cards, refused to waive the cost of its cards despite consistent pleas made by the government.

Many commuters and various groups slammed the hefty costs of Beep cards which were being offered at bus stations at P180 each — 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.

In response to concerns on the costs of the cards, the AFPI announced that it would distribute 125,000 free Beep cards for commuters who are in need.

The company added that it will also offer bus operators a system upgrade that will allow passengers of the EDSA Carousel route to use a QR ticket instead of the tap-to-pay card.