MANILA (UPDATE) - The government on Sunday said it is suspending the mandatory use of Beep cards for EDSA buses starting Monday Oct. 5 amid complaints over the cost of the cards.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said that they were "saddened by the refusal of AF Payments, Inc., the provider of the automatic fare collection system (AFCS) at the EDSA Busway, to waive the cost of the beep card despite consistent pleas made by the government."
"Thus, starting Monday, 05 October 2020, we are suspending the mandatory use beep cards at the EDSA Busway until the issue is resolved."
The DOTr said a dual payment system will be honored for EDSA Busway passengers.
"Those who have already bought or have existing beep cards may still use them for the payment of fares," the DOTr said.
Commuters who don't have a card yet can pay their fare in cash at the bus stations.
The government earlier ordered EDSA bus operators to shift to a cashless payment system for fares to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among passengers.
Use of the Beep cards became mandatory on Oct. 1, with many commuters unaware of the shift to cashless payments, resulting in long lines at many bus stations.
Many passengers also complained about the P80 cost of the Beep cards.
AF Payments however said that the cost of the cards was already "partially subsidized" and that the company wasn't making any money from the sales of the cards.
Bus operators also said commuters from provinces near Metro Manila might find Beep cards confusing since only a few of them have used the stored value cards prior to the pandemic.
The DOTr said the EDSA Bus Consortia said they will look for another AFCS provider.
A meeting with other AFCS providers is scheduled on Tuesday morning, the DOTr said.
The government said giving away the beep cards for free would have made a big difference to the commuters, mostly daily wage earners who are the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.