The Department of Transportation said today that it wants the beep cards used on EDSA buses to be given for free to Filipino commuters, many of whom are still reeling from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Alberto Suansing said they are discussing the proposal with the maker of the cards, AF Payments Inc. (AFPI). Commuters started using the cards yesterday but some were forced to find alternative modes of transportation because at PHP180 (US$3.72) each, they could barely afford them.
“Hopefully it can be resolved within the day…Secretary [Arthur] Tugade said that they shouldn’t be charging the commuters [for the cost of the cards]. The cards should be given for free,” Suansing said in English and Filipino in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
Each card comes with a manufacturing cost of PHP80 (US$1.65), while PHP100 (US$ 2.06) goes to the commuters’ fare. AFPI has said that they are already giving the card for free because the chip embedded in each cost PHP80 to manufacture.
The government made the use of the cards mandatory because it believes it would prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the group Laban Konsumer (“Consumer Fight”) is urging the government to postpone the use of the beep cards to 2021.
“This should have been optional first, perhaps make it mandatory next year. That’s our call. Let’s finish this year, and then next year, they can start it. You should first study what you want to implement,” its president Vic Dimagiba told Teleradyo in a separate interview.
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