By Lorenz S. Marasigan | Business Mirror | September 20, 2015

IT seems that the private company tasked to roll out the new ticketing scheme in the country’s overhead railway systems is pressed for time to meet its target, with only a few days left for it to completely install the facility in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3.

 While passengers of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 start to fully use the new system, customers of the most congested railway line in the metropolis will have to suffer queues a little bit longer.

Based on its progress in setting up the ticketing scheme at the LRT Line 1, it may take AF Payments Inc. roughly six weeks to launch the automated fare-collection system in the MRT Line 3. It has yet to start the public trial for the new payment scheme in Line 3.

“Over the past six weeks, our technical and operations teams, together with the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Light Rail Transit Authority, have been working round-the-clock to complete all equipment installation and end-to-end testing, so that LRT 1 train riders can benefit fully from the beep card and use it on both directions at the soonest possible time. We are pleased to say that we are now ready to activate the new ticketing system on Sunday, September 20,” AF Payments CEO Peter Maher said.

He noted that his group expects to launch the ticketing solution at the MRT “in a few weeks.” The Public-Private Partnership Center separately said the new payment scheme will be launched next month.

Based on an indicative timetable, the facility should be operational in all overhead railway systems by September.

The shift to a contactless ticketing system aims to enable seamless transfers from one metro line to another by unifying their ticketing schemes, and to shorter queuing time for the riding public.

A transition period before completely rolling out the system is needed to identify any possible bug in the system and to familiarize passengers with the new payment scheme.

Upon its completion, commuters can expect faster payment processes and reduced queuing time for buying tickets, as well as seamless transfers from one rail to another.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Ayala Corp., the lead proponents of AF Payments, are interested in expanding this payment system beyond transport to make money out of their over P3-billion investment.