ticket to ride

Malacanang is mulling privatizing the ticketing services of MRT and the LRTs.

If all three lines were unified under a single ticket system, it would vastly improve mobility in the city. (That plus closing the MRT-LRT1 loop.) It may cost an extra P2.50 per ticket but if the ticket company is creative, the cost of the actual ticket can be passed on to advertisers. Many other cities use advertising on the tickets. It might also be a relief to be rid of politician's mugs in our wallets.

Cities and municipalities serviced by the MRT/LRT should also respond with policies that encourage the use of mass transit. They can, for instance, allow companies to provide employees with monthly MRT/LRT passes as pre-tax benefits. Labor unions should ask for this benefit.

Cellphone companies can get into the act by allowing re-loading of transit passes via text, etc. Malls along the mass transit lines can also join by providing discounts to monthly pass holders.

A more ambitious program would unify all transport ticketing -or at least MRT/LRT, bus and FX taxis -under one fare system that allows no-charge or discounted transfers. This is not so far fetched. If the OBR succeeds, implenting a single bus-ticketing system won't be impossible. And if the LTO gets its act together, it can apply a similar system on the FX/shared taxis -and from there, it'll be a short throw to uniting all three fare systems.

Aiming for such a program may also provide the impetus/political will to abolish the boundary system.

The single metrowide fare system might provide beneficial (unintended) consequences by necessitating a rational interconnection between the various modes of transport.


vicvic said...

I guess it would be similar to the concept of Octopus Cards here in HK, which is a sort of prepaid card that one merely swipes on the turnstile of most public transportation units, buses, trams, ferries and trains (the MTR, LRT and the KCR systems) respectively. I was even informed by people knowledgeable in the industry here that this Octopus Card was actually developed by a Filipino Company.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


exactly. and RFID technologies have become so ubiquitous that rolling this out in Manila would probably be less expensive than the HK rollout.

electronic "wallets" using cellphones may even help reduce costs further.

(btw, your blog -and your job in HK is really interesting.)

DanieL said...

i agree that the puvs should have a unified ticketing system similar to the ez-link used in singapore. as long as you have credits, you can use it even to dine in mcdonalds.

since they should be in the service to the filipino people, make commuting easy, fast and convenient.

change is indeed difficult to implement especially if it's costly as hell. but again, it's worth a try.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


I think cost to government can be minimal if they do this on a BOT basis.

It won't be hard to get consumers/commuters to support the idea as the ease-of-use factor would be an easy sell.

The biggest obstacle would be changing the economic model of FX taxis and buses. They'll have to legislate a wage based model. This may not be such a hardsell for drivers if the wage system includes SSS and PhilHealth benefits. Operators who are used to receiving money at the end of the day may not like it, plus they will need to invest in new equipment. Again, some creative advertising trade-offs may offset costs. (I'd rather have the ads on top of FXs than the skyline, especially if the ads actually subsidize the cost of equipment.)

(btw, I'm from batch 84)

barangaysingapore said...

your ideas are all correct! im excited to see these targeted developments in reality.

hindi na magiging bugnutin ang pinoy commuter!

Urbano dela Cruz said...


we can always dream, can't we?

Paul said...

The DOTC had once implemented a common ticketing system for Lines 1 to 3 called the Flash Pass. I don't know if it was successful or not but I remember it was not easy to get one and even if you got one, it was only valid for a week of unlimited use.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


"valid for a week of unlimited use" - sounds like it was targetted towards tourists and not regular commuters.

Paul said...

Unlikely because the user had to submit a picture and it was pasted on the pass ID-like. Instead of passing through the turnstiles, the user was allowed through via the utility gate beside them.

If I remember correctly, the Flash Pass costs PHP 250.

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