President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said Beep cards required for cashless payments in public transportation should be given away free, after commuters complained they didn’t have extra money to buy them.
The President also took the transport officials to task for the confusion that the sudden implementation of cashless transactions on the EDSA Busway caused.
Duterte said information on the implementation did not reach all commuters, especially the poor ones who usually carriy only the exact amount for their fare.
“You know, it breaks your heart really [to see] those who go to work everyday… suffering.. I can see how it affects the human person,” the President said.
“We have been wasting so many billions to corruption and yet we cannot give the Beep cards for free,” he added.
The President said only the Beep card itself should be free because commuters would still have to pay for the load.
Recently, the Beep cards provider AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) said they cannot grant the request of the Department of Transportation to waive the card fees because they cover the expenses such as logistics, production, initialization, printing and distribution.
But the company said it would give away 125,000 free Beep cards to passengers who cannot afford to buy them.
The decision of AFPI to provide free cards came after the mandatory use of Beep cards for the Edsa Busway had been suspended.
The “no beep card, no ride” policy for buses along Edsa, which began Thursday, was suspended after a public outcry over the extra expenses they entailed.
On Monday, DOTr suspended the mandatory use of the Beep cards along the Edsa Busway after AFPI refused to waive the additional cost of the fees for the cards.
Beep cards were being offered at bus stations for P180, broken down into P80 for the card and P100 for the load.
On top of this, a P5 convenience fee was also being charged for third-party service providers for reloads, and card users were required to maintain at least P65 in their cards.
Following the President’s statement, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Tuesday vowed to make Beep cards free of charge to commuters.
“We will abide by the directive of the President,” LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said.
Delgra said the 125,000 free cards that AFPI offered are not enough.