FAST FACTS: why do we have two “beep” cards again?

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Images: beep card/BEEP Program

At the start of the month, the transport ministry ran into some miscommunication when they enforced an exclusive cashless policy on all buses plying the EDSA Carousel route. This brought on two problems: the first one being that the cards required for the automated fare collection system (AFCS) cost a steep PhP100. This is still aside from the PhP50 top-up amount which will serve as the card’s initial balance, bringing the total cost for first-time buyers to PhP150.

And the second being there’s actually two “beep” cards. Yep, two completely different companies are offering two different contactless reloadable cards with almost the same color scheme and design; no wonder commuters are confused. This is even after the government suspended its “No Beep Card, No Ride” policy for the time being.

Atty. Kristina Conti, a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, aired her annoyance on Facebook over the cost and inefficiency of having to buy two cards just to navigate Metro Manila:

One Twitter user reinforced the confusion by putting the two logos side by side:

As it turns out, that’s where the similarities between the two end, as their business concept, implementation, operability, and network of use are entirely different. 

So which one should you use for which public transport?

The older beep cards

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Image from Facebook: beep card

The much older Beep cards (stylized in the lower-case “beep” to further the confusion) are part of the Beep system, which is implemented, operated, and distributed by AF Payments Incorporated (AFPI), a joint venture between Ayala Corporation and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation.

The contactless smart cards came to be in 2015, around the same time that the Line 1 of the Light Rail Transit system installed brand-new wagons. Initially, the cards were to be used to travel through any of greater Manila’s elevated railway systems, namely LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3.

By 2019, Beep cards have grown into a robust network of payment systems, accommodating the entire premium Point-To-Point Bus Network, the Bonifacio Global City’s BGC Bus routes, and now, buses plying the EDSA Busway carousel. It can even be used to pay for toll fees for passing through the NLEX and CAVITEX highways. 

When it was first launched, the cards only sold for PhP20 to PhP30. Today, it goes for PhP80. Add the required initial load of PhP100, and the total initial cost comes out at PhP180. It also has a maintaining balance of PhP65. Students, senior citizens, and PWDs can also apply for special Beep cards that automatically apply their mandated discount to fares.

Commuters can reload their Beep card in any of the railway stations, kiosks along the EDSA Carousel route, and even in Bayad Centers, Villarica Pawnshop branches, and Tambunting outlets.

The newer BEEPRides cards

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Image from Facebook: BEEP Program

According to a clarificatory press release by Beep Transport chairperson Atty. Vigor Mendoza II, the Beep Program was the result of a strategic partnership between BEEPRides and the international remittance service Universal Storefront Services Corporation (USSC), which serves as the reloadable card’s exclusive distributor.

The program’s first venture into public transport was back in 2017 when the Beep Jeep program was launched alongside the transport ministry as part of its efforts to modernize the traditional jeepney system.

The card is available for PhP150, which comes with already comes with an initial PhP50 load. You can top the card up at any of the BEEPRides kiosks along its serviceable routes, for a convenience fee of PhP8. There is also no required minimum balance on the card; as Mendoza said, you can use the card up to the last centavo.

You can use the card to ride the modern PUVs plying these routes (as of October 15, 2020):

– Antipolo to Cubao and vice versa

– Doroteo Jose to Cubao

– Silangan to Cubao

– Quezon City Memorial Circle Loop to Cubao

– PITX to Monumento, Alabang, Trece Martires, and Cavite City

– FTI to Ayala

– Alabang to Ayala

– Monumento to Meycauayan

– North EDSA to Gilmore to Taytay

– Kalentong to Pasig

– Quezon Avenue to Montalban

They also serve point-to-point routes whose schedules are posted on their official Facebook page. They also tend to follow the fare matrix provided by the LTFRB to all public utility jeepneys and buses.

That’s as far as we can distinguish between the two. Ultimately, they still serve different routes and PUVs, so we might be less confused, but we’ll probably still scratch our heads because of their respective costs. 

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