AF Payments Inc. (AFPI), the contactless payment solutions company and Beep card provider for Metro Manila’s light rail systems, has raised its sales projections after it quickly exceeded its initial targets.
Three days into full implementation at the Light Rail Transit’s two lines (LRT-1 and LRT-2) and Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3), AFPI Chief Executive and President Peter Maher yesterday said 600,000 cards had been sold, well over the expected 300,000 to 400,000.
“We had to revise our plan. We didn’t expect such a big uptick in the Beep card [sales]. Sales have been strong; we have been ordering more cards. We are more likely to do 1 million this year,” Maher told reporters.
He added that AFPI’s plans to expand to other transportation sectors – buses, taxis and tollways – would provide an addition driver to company growth.
“The growth thereafter depends if we can go into buses, into tollways — these are different rider groups. We expect a good headway in buses as well,” Maher said.
Implementation of the unified payment scheme for Metro Manila’s LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 lines was completed last Saturday with MRT-3 being the last to adopt the system.
The contactless Beep Card was first used in the LRT-2 line in July, followed by the LRT-1 in August.
Maher said that by the end of the year, LRT and MRT-3 passengers would be able to purchase and reload their Beep Cards at major convenience stores instead of just at line terminals.
“We have good plans and good agreements with major convenience stores. However, we do not have a firm date yet,” he said.
AFPI is looking to extend the unified payment scheme to buses, taxis and tollways.
“We are working on a tollway project now and we are hoping to get some progress,” Maher said.
The unified payment is expected to facilitate transfers from one line to another, easing commuter woes amid long queuing times and delayed train arrivals.
“One of the objectives of the unified automated fare collection system when it was envisioned by the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) was to provide a seamless transfer from one line to another,” Maher said.
“We hope that the Beep Card’s interoperability feature will offer some improvement to the overall commuting experience of the Filipino.”
Long lines were still present —particularly at the MRT-3—yesterday.
“The system will definitely go through some birthing pains,” Maher said, noting that both train operators and passengers need to become acquainted with the use of the contactless cards.
MRT Chief Roman Buenafe said the old payment system was more than a decade old and people had adjusted to it.
“We have to remember that the old system was 16 years old; people got used to it. With the new system it will take some time to get used to it,” Buenafe said.
“In engineering there is something we call a two-month learning term. But I think in less than two months people would get the hang of it already.”