DOTr must explain beep card shortage —Poe

RUNNING OUT Commuters line up to get beep cards. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Thursday was outraged by the lack of beep cards and called on the Department of Transportation (DOTR) to explain why it happened.

She also lashed out at the DOTr’s lack of progress in adopting more advanced transit payment methods, which she saw as counterproductive to the government’s dream of establishing a more secure and user-friendly transportation system.

A beep card is a stored-value contactless card used in rail lines, select buses, and modern public utility vehicles.

Inexplicably, despite the scarcity of beep cards, they are now being offered on internet marketplaces for a price of P188, up from the standard price of P100 at train stations.

“The Department of Transportation should explain the scarcity of beep cards that burdens our people using trains. The time spent lining up for every single-journey ticket is a moment wasted for our already weary commuters,” Poe, Senate Committee on Public Services chairperson, said in a statement.

“The department should also shed light on reports that many have resorted to buying the cards online at a steeper price,” she added.

For Poe, the shortage of beep cards “is a step backward to our goal to digitalize our transportation payment scheme as a safer and more convenient mode.”

The government has allotted billions of pesos for developing and modernizing the country’s railways system, said Poe, stressing that the people should feel the “fruits of their hard-earned taxes.”

Light Rail Transit Authority corporate secretary Hernando Cabrera said the shortfall of beep cards is caused by global chip scarcity.

The DOTr said that it is exploring other means of cashless payment, such as quick response (QR) codes, debit cards, credit cards, and cellular phones, to bolster the public transportation system.