CITING its contribution to the modernization of public transportation in the country, the just-launched Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS) of Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI) is seen to boost the transformative program of the government.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Martin Delgra III, who spoke at the launching of the bus firm’s AFCS at the North Terminal in Bacolod City Monday, June 14, 2021, said VTI is leading the cashless fare collection in Western Visayas.
VTI, operator of the Ceres Lines buses under the biggest bus conglomerate in the country, the Yanson Group of Bus Companies (YGBC), is the first to implement the AFCS in the Visayas in terms of bus service.
Delgra said AFCS is a key component in the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), the largest non-infra project of the Duterte administration.
“It is fitting that in Bacolod City and Region 6, the VTI being the biggest bus company has given its full and wholehearted support not only to the transformative program under the PUVMP but clearly in support to the Duterte administration,” he added.
The AFCS implementation is pursuant to the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
In 2017, a Department Order was issued establishing the legal and institutional framework of the modernization program for land-based transport systems.
Delgra said for over four years now, they have seen growth and improvement in the transport industry across the country.
For VTI, the LTFRB top official cited its continuing efforts to further raise the level of service for the comfort and convenience of the riding public through the use of cashless payment when taking a bus.
"The late Ricardo Yanson Sr. whose pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial skills started and developed the company, realized too early on in the business that the safety, comfort and convenience of our riding public are key motivating factors in improving public transport in the region," he said.
As he emphasized that the cards are given to passengers for free, Delgra thanked the firm "for leading the battle cry of President Rodrigo Duterte as you help us in making the Filipino lives comfortable."
The pilot implementation for the AFCS of the VTI will be for its units plying between cities of Bacolod and Victorias. The implementation also kicked off Monday.
The automated collection system is a cashless, contactless and efficient way of collecting fares from the passengers.
According to the DOTr, the AFCS aims to improve urban public transportation by providing payment options to the riding public.
The agency said the program is created to ensure interoperability and mutual trust among the passengers and the transportation companies.
"This will be a more secure payment for the passengers, as they do not have to carry cash to pay for their fares, especially during the early mornings where spare change may be difficult to come by," it said, adding that "they just need to tap their cards and enjoy the ride."
VTI president and chief executive officer Leo Rey Yanson, in his message during the launching, said their company always keeps on improving, especially in looking for ways to better the services of their buses.
Yanson reiterated the need for the continuous improvement of the company in terms of convenience, quality, and affordable service to the riding public.
"It has always been my goal to continue what my father and mother have started," he stated, adding that "despite the difficulties faced by the company, we are grateful for the people who always support us."
The bus firm's top official reiterated that tap cards will be distributed for free to the riding public. The load, meanwhile, will be paid by the commuters in the terminal booth.
"We adhere to the modernization program of the transport sector under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte," Yanson said, adding that "the pandemic cannot stop us from delivering good service to our stakeholders."
In the future, the company intends to give rebates to the passengers and explore possibilities of loyalty award points to maximize the riding experience of the passengers, he also said.
For his part, LTFRB-Western Visayas Regional Director Richard Osmeña, who was also present at the activity, said it is precedent to all other bus operators to provide free tap cards to the passengers.
The AFCS will also ensure a secured payment system, improved passenger convenience, and help lessen the cost on the part of transit operators, Osmeña said, as he lauded the move of the VTI meant to improve the urban public transportation system in the country.
The regional director said the VTI is also looking at "interconnectivity" or eventually using the same cards for other vehicles like taxis and jeepneys.
Delgra said there is an ongoing discussion and finalization to run the interconnectivity, not only one mode of card, under the agency's AFCS project.
It will interconnect all modes of cashless payments, which the agency is pushing, he said.
Delgra said innovations like "unique rewards points program" adapted by VTI encourage commuters to go cashless and earn points so their next fare will be free.
The cashless system has been pushed by the government since the onset of the pandemic also as a means of addressing public health concerns, he added.
Meanwhile, also present at the launching are LTFRB Regional Directors Paterno Reynato Padua of Region 12, Eduardo Montealo Jr. of Region 7 and Renwick Rutaquio of Regions 4A and 4B.