MANILA, Philippines – Ticket coupons will still be used to pay for trips on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1, even as the new automated fare collection system (AFCS) is set to go live on the southbound line on Sunday, August 16.
Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesperson Hernando Cabrera explained that since only the southbound line would transition to the new system, commuters will still need to buy paper tickets for their northbound trips.
Since August 8, the LRT1 has stopped selling the old magnetic tickets to prepare for the AFCS, which uses the new contactless tap-and-go beep™ stored value cards and single journey tickets.
“Ticket coupons will be used for the northbound side until we fully operationalize the new system. On the southbound side, we will also do the same. We can’t stop it abruptly. There are still several passengers who are hesitant about using new technology,” Cabrera said on Friday, August 14.
He also attributed this to the LRTA’s new policy of allowing passengers to buy two ticket coupons to be used on the same day. Previously, passengers can buy only one coupon, forcing them to line up again for a return ticket.
LRT1 pax can now buy 2 ticket coupons to be used on same day. 1 to be used going to work, the other 1in going home & avoid the long lines.— Hernando T. Cabrera (@attycabs) August 13, 2015
The new policy aims to ease the long queues especially at rush hour, Cabrera said. But the scheme only applies to ticket coupons worth P30.
“In the morning, you can buy two tickets to go to and from work, so you won’t have to line up anymore. That’s why, among other things, we won’t stop yet the ticket coupon [system] even if there’s already a new system,” Cabrera said.
Starting Sunday, August 16, passengers can try out the new unified ticketing scheme on the southbound line of the LRT1. This comes 3 weeks after the pilot test was conducted on Line 2 of the mass transit system.
“It will be the first experience for many people of a modern ticketing fare collection system. We hope they appreciate what they see,” AF Payments Incorporated chief operating officer Peter Maher said.
AF Payments Incorporated, the consortium of Ayala Corporation and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, is behind the P1.7-billion ($36.78-million) public-private partnership project.
The consortium aims to bring the unified ticketing system to the two lines of the LRT and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) by September.
Cabrera said they are eyeing the deployment of the AFCS to the northbound side of LRT1 by the first or second week of September.
In a press briefing on Friday, Maher said the public trial starting Sunday is meant to test the new gates, ticket vending machines (TVMs), and the public’s ability to adapt to the new system.
While Maher and Cabrera both reported good feedback from passengers using the tap-and-go cards on LRT2, Cabrera said the operational tests are needed at LRT1 because of the difference in the volume of passengers and station layout.
“The operations situation in Line 2 is different from Line 1. In Line 2, the stations are wider, there are fewer passengers, and there are more gates. In Line 1, the stations are smaller, there are fewer gates, and the volume of passengers is greater. So operationally, there are potentially more problems here compared to Line 2, so that’s what we want to test now,” Cabrera said.
To help commuters adapt to the new system, Maher said 57 tellers will be deployed next week, as well as beep™ card personnel who will teach passengers how to use the TVMs.
Starting Sunday, all 20 stations on the southbound direction of the LRT1 will be selling and re-loading the new tickets.
Passengers who already bought the beep™ cards at LRT2 may also start using them on Line 1.
“We’ve done almost 1 million transactions in LRT2, and about 90,000 commuters have bought our new beep™ card. Over the last 4 days, we sold 27,000 cards,” Maher said.
The new cards, which are sold for P20 ($0.43), can be loaded and reloaded with a minimum of P12 ($0.26) to a maximum of P10,000 ($216.89).
Based on initial reports, Maher said commuters load P100 on average.
“We hope that as commuters become more comfortable and trust the product, they will have the confidence to increase their loads,” he said. – Rappler.com
$1 = P46.22