President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that Beep cards should be given for free to commuters. This came after the Department of Transportation’s “no Beep, no ride” policy caused an uproar among commuters since it was implemented on Oct. 1.
"They were not prepared for this card. Kaya 'yang card na 'yan, card lang naman 'yan. ibigay na ‘yan ng libre. Bakit pabayaran pa ‘yan? We have been wasting so may billions to corruption tapos hindi 'yan maibigay," Duterte said.
"That's why I would like to talk to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade next meeting because I would raise the possibility of giving it free. "
He adds, "If there is no relief in sight or it cannot be done immediately, I suggest that we find the money and give it to the public para walang gulo at lahat meron. Hindi lahat ng Pilipino ngayon, may pera. Money is really hard to come by. Buti nang makasakay sila, at least meron silang card. Give the card free." (Watch video here.)
In its fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19, DOTr required EDSA Busway passengers to pay for their fare through a reloadable Beep card, also used in the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit.
The card costs at least P180, with P80 for the card itself and P100 for the minimum load. However, Beep card provider AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) refused to waive the cost of the card for EDSA Busway. The cards issued to the commuters were also different from those used on Metro Manila’s transit systems.
DOTr suspends Beep cards
On Oct. 4, DOTr announced that beginning Monday, the use of Beep cards on ESA Busway will be suspended until the issue is resolved.
“I ordered the mandatory use of Beep cards to be suspended for at least five days because there is a fee. I don’t want it to have a fee,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in an interview with ANC yesterday.
Commuters are then allowed to use cash as payment, while those who have the Beep card may continue using it for their trips. Others may still purchase the card through AFPI’s dual payment system.
On Monday, AFPI announced that it would give away 125,000 free cards to “people in need.” The firm said,“This offer has been made possible by our shareholders and business groups, who graciously donated the needed funds to pay for up to 125,000 free cards.” They are meanwhile coming up with a system in determining the recipients of the free card.