By Miguel R. Camus | Philippine Daily Inquirer | September 27, 2015

The tap-and-go Beep card system will be used on the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT) starting Oct. 3 in a move that will bring all three elevated trains in Metro Manila under a single payment platform, according to the company behind the project.

AF Payments Inc. said this would enable commuters to use Beep cards at all stations of the MRT on Edsa. Earlier, the Beep card was rolled out on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 and 2.

“We are pleased to inform the public that the Beep card will soon have full acceptance in all three train lines that service Metro Manila. We hope that this new automated fare-collection system will not only improve the train riders’ buying and paying experience, but also facilitate seamless transfer between lines with the card’s interoperability feature,” said AF Payments president and chief executive officer Peter Maher.

In anticipation of the Beep card rollout on MRT and to avoid long queues come launch date, AF Payments will be preselling the cards at the following MRT stations: North Avenue, Cubao, Shaw, Ayala and Taft. Beep cards worth P100 (with P80 load) will be available at those stations beginning Sept. 28.

“We encourage MRT 3 commuters who don’t have a Beep card yet to purchase one during this period so they don’t have to line up to buy their cards on Oct. 3. They can also buy and reload their Beep card at any of the LRT 1 and 2 stations,” said the head of the company, which is backed by Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

The Beep card is a new noncontact payment solution developed to make the payment process more convenient across all three rail lines as it allows seamless transfers from one rail line to another. The card uses a more powerful chip-based system and will serve as an electronic payment solution for day-to-day payments, AF Payments said.

The project is being implemented under an automated fare collection system public-private partnership (PPP) deal. A venture between Ayala and Metro Pacific won the project in 2014, with the aim of creating a broader payment system similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus card.

The rollout on the MRT is closely being watched as it is the busiest of the three elevated train lines in Metro Manila, serving over half a million passengers per day, well beyond its design capacity of 350,000.

The government has long been drawing flak for MRT’s recurring technical problems, lack of trains and long rush-hour queues.

The Department of Transportation and Communications is in the process of rehabilitating the MRT and has ordered new train coaches scheduled to arrive from China beginning 2016.