Despite honesty system hitch, bus firm still willing to go 'conductorless'
MANILA, Philippines– After ending its honesty system because a number of passengers who did not pay their fare, Green Frog Hybrid Bus Company told Rappler that it would still give the conductorless system another try.
However, it will have a “more robust [system], not dependent on whether a person is honest or not,” said Philip Apostol, Green Frog Founder and CEO.
“This was a small hiccup. We will reintroduce conductorless buses… Give us a few months,” he added.
On Wednesday, March 20, Green Frog announced that it ended its honesty payment system after 30% of the passengers refused to pay fare. It was just 9 days since it started with the honesty system, which asked passengers to bring the exact fare to put in the drop box or tap their prepaid cards upon entering the bus. The aim of the system was to eliminate conductors in the bus collecting the fare.
In an official statement, Green Frog applauded the 70% who followed the system. But it showed its dismay towards 30% of the passengers who were mostly office workers and university students. Green Frog said those who did not cooperate were among “the most educated population in the country.”
Green Frog’s routes are from SM Mall of Asia to C5, Buendia, and Kalayaan.
“It is sad because this happened on the route with the most educated population in the country...Yet the 30% who refused to pay are part of this educated group―the Starbucks-coffee-drinking group with the latest gadgets,” Green Frog said.
To have that number of non-paying passengers was unsustainable for the company. This was the reason Green Frog ended the honesty system after over a week and recalled their conductors.
“The end of the first day, we all knew we had a problem. Fare collection dropped significantly. In the next few days, the fare collection stayed where it was. It never improved. After 3 days, drivers and the paying passengers were complaining that too many people were taking advantage of the system. By the 7th day, I decided to end it,” Apostol said.
Lack of discipline
Green Frog introduced its ‘honesty system’ conductorless operations on March 11, as its next logical step after launching their innovative tap card and P2P (point-to-point) format. It was also a way to be at par with First World countries.
“This is how it’s done in First World countries. This is how Green Frog will do it from now on,” Green Frog said in its announcement about the honesty system.
Apostol said that they had simplified the system ―passengers queue up, board the bus, drop exact fare or tap their prepaid cards, get the ticket, and find a seat.
“Instead, what the 30% did was to enter the bus, ignore the driver, find a seat and ride for free,” Apostol said.
Apostol pointed out that this lack of discipline manifests not only in failing honesty systems but also in the heavy traffic and unorganized queues.
“It is always this undisciplined minority that spoils it for the rest of us. Look at our traffic mess which is basically caused by a few undisciplined drivers. Queues are difficult for these people, too,” Apostol said.
Netizens also expressed their disappointment, pointing out this long-standing trait among Filipinos.
Despite the setback, Green Frog vowed to continue to innovate and improve the country’s public transportation system.
Green Frog, a trendsetting transportation company, introduced the two-door, low-floor city hybrid buses, and pioneered the tap card payment system and P2P (point-to-point) format. – Rappler.com
Sofia Virtudes is a Rappler intern. She is a BS Development Communication graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.