MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Transportation on Monday said it is eyeing the use of "one card" for different modes of transportation as part of efforts to go "cashless" amid the pandemic.
Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade said his plan will also have "multiple players" with one "clearing house" so that no company has control and the public may choose which "interoperable" card to use.
"Nasa plano na namin ‘yan bago pa man magkaroon ng pandemya…Kung ako masusunod, end of the year, this year," he told ANC's Headstart.
(That has been in our plans even before the pandemic. If it were up to me, it will be up by end of the year, this year.)
The government suspended the mandatory use of Beep cards for EDSA buses after service provider AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) refused to waive the cost per card. Starting Monday, passengers may use the card or pay cash before boarding.
AFPI, which is a consortium of the Ayala Group and First Pacific Group, was tapped by the bus operators and not by government, said Tugade.
He said he has given instructions to search for a new service provider "and look at the best option available for the riding public."
City buses in Metro Manila want automated fare collection system (AFCS) to remain but would like it to be free, Mega Manila Consortium operations head Rene Mapili told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
"Tingin ko po yung AFCS maganda po, mabilis po ang transaksyon, pag cash mabagal po ang andar ng bus. Sayang ang oras ng pasahero natin. Gusto pa rin namin yung automated fare collection. Gagawan na lang po siguro ng paraan kung paano malilibre ang mga card na ito," he said.
(We think AFCS is a good system with fast transactions. Cash slows down bus operations, it wastes our passengers' time. We still want automated fare collection, we will just look for ways for it to be free.)
The agency's suspension of the mandatory use of Beep cards was welcome as it heard the voices of consumers, said Vic Dimagiba, president of Laban Konsyumer.
The group, however, raised concern that the Beep card was not a "contactless" form of payment.
"Cashless pero hindi contactless...Cashless nga pero nakita ko yung video ang daming kamay hinahawakan yung card," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo. "Siguro isali na nila yung DOH (Department of Health) sa pagreview ng policy na yan."
(It's cashless but not contactless...It's cashless but I can see in the video many hands touch the card. The DOH should join in reviewing this policy.)