By The Standard | March 13, 2016

MRT passengers are now paying P20 for each Beep Card that could have been free but the proposal for a zero-cost automatic fare collection was unacted upon by former Transportation secretary Manuel Roxas II. 

In July of 2012, then MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol gave a proposal to then DoTC secretary Roxas for Beep Cards that would have been implemented at zero cost to government.

A letter dated July 30, 2012 to Roxas from Vitangcol shows that DoTC-MRT-3 had proposed the implementation of a Pilot Contactless Automatic Fare Collection System “to cushion the impact of the forthcoming ‘death’ of the AFC System” and that “efforts were done to engage a proponent... to supply a Contactless AFC System, all at no cost to the government and to the riding public.” 

The letter, however, also expressed frustration that these efforts were “to no avail.” The letter sought direction from Roxas as to how the problem on the Beep Cards should be solved, as Vitangcol had stated that Roxas was in a habit of ignoring letters. 

Vitangcol further admitted in an exclusive interview that there was a proposal that could have been accepted and implemented where the Beep Cards would have been free and passengers would only have to pay for the load. The proposal of proponent Eurolink International would have given the cards for free to the first one million passengers. Instead, the contract for the beep cards was eventually awarded to the Ayalas and the cards now cost P20 per card without load. 

The public, when the Beep Card was launched, noted that the cards would cost them P20.00 until Dec. 31, 2019; after which the cards would then cost P30.00. As of today, more than 1.5 million beep cards are in circulation, which means that without load, the Ayalas have already grossed P30 million from the beep cards, instead of MRT riders having been allowed to avail of the beep cards for free. 

Beep is the brand that the Ayalas made for the reloadable contactless smart card which replaced the magnetic card-based system in paying rail-based rapid transit transportation fares in and around Metro Manila.