A day after the government implemented the 'no Beep card, no ride' on EDSA Busway, calls to junk the P80 fee on the purchase of the card on top of the credits have snowballed.
Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier ordered the agency’s rail and road sector to ensure that AF Payments Inc. –the consortium that operates the automatic fare collection system—to give for free the stored value cards to commuters once they buy the load for the fare, even with the minimum amount they need.
“Dapat libre lang ang card. We are still under quarantine measures. Workers who have just returned to work are the main users of the rail system and the EDSA Busway. Malaking bagay para sa mga ordinaryong manggagawa ang P30-P50 na ikakaltas para bayaran ang card ng Beep. Pasahe din ‘yun. They should be spared from the burden of having to pay the price of the Beep card on top of their fares,” Tugade said.
Now, labor group Defend Jobs Philippines is asking the for a refund of the P80 charged fee for Beep card purchases and to scrap the P5 convenience charge for third-party service providers for reloads and the P65 maintaining balance policy.
According to them the government “must stop collecting such purchase charges for card and reloading services”, adding that the majority of the people using public transportation are Filipino workers on a regular basis.
The group also suggested to transportation secretary and President Rodrigo Duterte to stop “charging commuters and to refund the charged cost of the Beep cards by converting it as load that can be used for their transportation expenses.”
“Instead of putting their income directly to the needs of their relatives especially that most of them have just returned to their work, our workers have been forced to pay for exorbitant fees and charges, which could have been utilized for food, education and health expenses of their families,” Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy was quoted as saying.
In her Facebook page, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said that her agency is still in discussions and negotiations with AF Payments Inc. to find a solution regarding the issue.
“Maglalabas din ang LTFRB ng isang Memorandum Circular na siyang mag-uutos sa mga PUV Operator na huwag ipakargo sa mga commuter ang halaga ng AFCS modality na kanilang pipiliin. Dapat, load o pamasahe lamang ang sagot ng commuter. ‘Yan po ang posisyon ni Secretary Tugade at ng buong DOTr,” Libiran said in her Facebook page.
She also clarified that it is up to the PUV operators’ discretion on the type of cashless payment method they want to use, claiming that there are PUVs that use other forms of cashless payment options.
“Noong naglabas ng polisiya ang LTFRB, ang nakalagay lamang po sa guidelines ay kailangang mag-implement ang PUV ng cashless transaction para maprotektahan ang kalusugan ng mga commuter. Wala pong specific AFCS na required. Ang kailangan lang, cashless. At ang implementation ng cashless system, hindi lamang po limitado sa paggamit ng card. Kaya nga meron din pong mga PUVs na gumagamit ng GCash, Paymaya, Squidpay, QR Code, among others,” Libiran stated in her post.
“Ayon sa Mega Manila Consortium (operator of the EDSA Busway/Carousel), pinili nila ang Beep card dahil ito na rin ang ginagamit sa MRT at LRT. At dahil ang mga pasahero nila ay madalas ring pasahero ng mga tren, minabuti nilang pumili ng isang AFCS na maaari ding magamit sa mga railway lines,” she added.
A stored-value contactless way to pay, Beep cards can be utilized at LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3 and at a number of Point-to-Point (P2P) buses and modern Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) nationwide.
By tapping at designated fare machines, the fare is deducted from the card.
Photo/s from AF Payments Inc., Department of Transportation Facebook page, and Asec Goddes Hope Libiran Facebook page