The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has long been pushing for an automated fare collection system (AFCS) for public transportation.
When the pandemic struck two years ago, the agency tried to implement a fully cashless system on the EDSA Busway using Beep cards. However, it involved commuters paying extra for the Beep cards to add to the initial load credits. Amidst already difficult times, the added cost of the cards, as expected, did not sit well with the riding public, which then prompted DOTr to suspend its mandatory use.
Fast forward to this year, and they're back with another attempt to implement cashless payment systems. But this time, DOTr is utilizing EMV cards in paying PUV fares. Together with officials from the LTFRB, Land Bank of the Philippines, and PM Jeepney, the agency has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that signals the resumption of the pilot testing of the program.
Key officials of the involved agencies have done the inaugural tap in and out of the first-ever EMV-enabled automatic fare collection system. The said pilot run involves 150 modern PUV units which will ply selected routes in the NCR, Regions 3 and 4A, and 7 (Metro Cebu) areas.
“The institutionalization of the AFCS will bring us closer to the goal of achieving global standards in cashless payments when commuting, following the norm in many other countries that have long been using this system," said DOTr Sec. Jaime Bautista in a message delivered by Usec. Steven Pastor.
For the pilot run of the AFCS, the program will initially accept EMV cards from state-run Landbank. But once testing proves successful, the DOTr says commuters will soon be able to use their existing ATM debit or credit cards from other banks that have EMV chips together with QR codes and Beep cards.
Needless to say, cashless transactions trump physical payments all day when it comes to convenience. Now that DOTr is trying a technically one-card-for-all system, this should remove the unnecessary hassle and inconvenience brought about by using different payment cards in riding different public utility vehicles, which is one of the main roadblocks preventing our transport systems from reaching modern standards.