The Department of Transportation said Monday 125,000 Beep cards will be given for free to bus riders after commuters complained of the added cost of buying the physical tap-to-pay card during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We appreciate the plan of AFPI (AF Payments Inc.) to set aside the prospect of profit for the meantime, to answer the call of need from our commuters and to give them free beep cards until a QR-based electronic ticketing system becomes operational," the Department of Transportation said in a statement.
Those looking to catch a ride on the EDSA Busway were shocked last week to find out that the tap-to-pay Beep card would cost more than expected, on top of the usual fare and maintaining balance. The Beep Card provider, AF Payments, previously declined the DOTr request to make the Beep cards free.
The DOTr then suspended the "NO BEEP, NO RIDE" policy on Monday and permitted commuters to pay via Beep or cash.
President Rodrigo Duterte in his Monday night address said Beep cards should be free to commuters, saying "Ibigay na yan ng libre bakit pa babayaran yan? We have been wasting so many billions to corruption bakit yan hindi maibigay? (Give it for free, why must it be paid for? We have been wasting so many billions to corruption, why can Beep cards be given?)"
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The end goal for the EDSA Busway is a QR code-based electronic ticketing system, which has been in the pipeline before the pandemic. The DOTr said it's a possibility reserved for the future as cashless transactions using phones and online payments will be the norm for commuters long after the virus has gone.