tap your way to the train: the new MRT RFID card

so many things to blog about, and with the long holiday over, i'm really not sure whether i will ever have the time to tell all the stories i'm itching to post, but here's a quick one.

ever since i've moved to makati, i've been spared the ordeal of commuting from quezon city, particularly the MRT. yes, it's cheap, fast, and even the environmental thing to do, but the crowd not just adds wrinkles to my already wrinkled barong, it also adds creases to my forehead: the stress of people pushing against each other so early in the morning is simply something i would rather live without. but despite that, i still do get to ride the train every now and then, and from the very beginning, i've preferred to use the stored value card, then when it became available, the G-pass. the G-pass was initiated by globe: it's an RFID card the size and shape of a 5-peso coin which you tap on designated readers on the MRT turnstiles. it takes the place of the soft magnetic cards, and is (theoretically) infinitely reloadable: unlike the stored value card which has a(n again, theoretical) two-month lifetime, and the single-use cards which should be used within the day, the G-pass lasted me nearly 2 years (got it in january 2007). i still get a kick out of just placing my wallet over the reader and walking through the turnstile at the sound of the beep. people who still queue for single-use tickets don't know what they're missing, and they stare at me in a strange way, particularly when i don't have to line up to exit, because there's a designated lane for me, haha. i'm not so sure about the costs, but when i load P100, P99 gets credited, and each trip is slightly more expensive (by a negligible few centavos which i don't mind). with the onset of the holidays beginning december 23, i got out of makati fairly often, and used my G-pass every time. but just after christmas, i went to have my pass reloaded, and i was aghast to find out that it had been discontinued. that furrowed my brow, really, and i was simply given the instruction: please go to a globe business center.

what the unhelpful attendant at the ugly reloading booth did not tell me is that the G-pass has actually been replaced. they are now selling a regular-shaped RFID card, which has has this latinate name: contactless fare card (or something), and is also (theoretically) infinitely reloadable. for P50, you get a card and P35 load. and you can load P50 at any given time, and they nick P5 as service charge. reasonable, i should say, but i still think the MRTC or the DOTC should just step in and introduce their own RFID or proximity cards without the service charge, and usable across all 3 lines. which reminds me: smart was supposed to have its own ticketless entry system for the MRT via the metropass. and whatever happened to the 2D ticket where you just text to get a ticket? the bar code scanners are there, i can see them (oddly placed, i must say).

well anyway, i have P125 worth of load in my new fare card and i'm sure it's going to be fun tapping my way into and out of the MRT. now i just hope they come up with more designs to choose from. so all you commuters out there, do yourselves a favor and get the card. the time you save not queuing for a ticket is well worth the service charge.

exeunt, G-pass

welcome, the contactless fare card

comparing sizes: hopefully more designs to choose from