It’s been one fiasco after another for commuters throughout this entire COVID-19 pandemic. The latest one comes in the form of the automatic fare-collection system (AFCS) that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is requiring for the EDSA Busway.
This all began when the DOTr announced that the Busway would be going completely cashless effective October 1, 2020. However, on the first day of implementation, the situation at bus stations got a bit chaotic. Plus, there was also the issue about the initial charges that the AFCS service provider AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) was requiring from commuters, which ultimately forced the DOTr to suspend its new cashless policy.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently followed this up with an order to remove card fees for all tap-to-pay systems, just after AFPI handed out 125,000 Beep cards for free. That’s why as of this writing, the EDSA Busway has officially gone back to accepting both cards and cash payments from commuters.
Now, while things haven’t been completely sorted out just yet, it appears that the DOTr is already exploring other ways to implement its cashless payment system. It recently inked a partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), through which the two will work together on several transport modernization projects, one of them relating to the AFCS.
To be more specific, the DOTr and LBP will conduct the pilot testing of an automated system that will use Mastercard EMVCo-compliant cards as payment instruments across different modes of public transport. The agency estimates at least 130 PUVs will participate in the pilot run that’s expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021.
There’s still a while to go until then, but at least we have something to look forward to. Here’s hoping that the new system can be implemented as seamlessly as possible and that it can be used along other transport systems such as the EDSA Busway. What say you, commuters?