Sunday, May 27, 2007


In 2005, I was fortunate to have stayed in Hongkong for three weeks on a study grant. There I had first hand experience at how efficient Hongkong's transportation system was. I was totally amazed seeing almost everyone using just one card to take a train, a bus, their good ol' tram, or even to buy things from groceries and convenience stores.

They called it the Octopus card, if I remember it correctly. It was so convenient that a friend of mine, then working as domestic helper there, got me one even before I arrived there. Using it was like having some electronic device you can wave to open entrances... of trains, buses, and trams. You didn't even have to bring it out of your wallet. It worked even if you simply placed your wallet near enough to the sensors. I thought then, if only we had such a thing in the Philippines.

A year after, in 2006, I heard about Globe's G-Pass. It is pretty much like the Octopus card of Hongkong except that it works only for the MRT. No buses, nor groceries for this one. Not yet anyway. For some reason I did not feel like giving the thing a try immediately. Maybe I was just skeptical. Until lately, when having to fall in long lines at MRT finally irked me. Now, I got myself a G-Pass.

Just for everyone's info, you can get the chip (Globe chose to package the thing as a plastic chip instead of a card) at G-Pass booths which are present in all MRT stations both north and south bound. You can get it for P100, P50 of which is consummable. Be ready with a Globe cell number because, for some reason, they are going to ask for it. Next time, when your initial P50 load runs out, you can just reload. Take note though that for every use of the chip at MRT, there is an additional charge of around a peso or so.

Perhaps, this is the reason why so many people still choose to line up for those MRT cards. Or perhaps, they simply still do not understand how G-Pass works. As for me, I plan to use the chip more and more, even if I really don't understand why there is an additional charge or mark-up over regular MRT fares, and why every chip has to be tied with a Globe cell number. Do we need a cellphone to ride a train?

No comments: