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InterAksyon.com means BUSINESS

MANILA - (UPDATED 5:32 p.m.) The partnership between Ayala Corp (AC) and Metro Pacific Investment Corp (MPIC) has outbid two other groups for the multibillion-peso common ticketing project for Metro Manila's mass rail services.

The AF Consortium of the Ayala-MPIC group has offered a negative financial bid of P1,088,103,900 for the Contactless Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS), better than the P1,088,000,000 offer of  SM Consortium and Comworks-Berjaya Consortium. Comworks-Berjaya Consortium offered P2,050,090,300.

A negative bid means the winning bidder will pay the government instead of getting paid by the operator and riders for the service. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) set a bid ceiling of P1.72 billion.

In a statement, MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company is "pleased to share a common ground with Ayala Corp" to "modernize our rail transport system."

"This strategic alliance will create integrated solutions that will improve public transportation through our vision to transform the country’s light rail transit system into a network very much like those in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other major cities in Asia,’’ he said.

AC chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said the company is "delighted to build this exciting platform together with the First Pacific group."

"We will be leveraging the complementary strengths and assets of each consortium member, and we believe that we can help bring out the promising potential of AFCS not only as a transit fare collection method but as a broader and efficient payment ecosystem at par with global standards,” he said.

Sought for comment, AC managing director Eric Francia said, "It's the most exciting that we have seen, but we are ecstatic to be the one on top right now." 

Jose Maria K. Lim, president of MPIC, said the company aggressively bid for the project because of the size and potential of the market for this project. 

Lim said the plan is to expand the application of this card into the retail market, particularly micro retail payments.

"We understand this is a P700 billion market and we are hoping to have a head start in the micropayments market together with the BPI and the other partners in the group," Lim added.  

The DOTC did not open the offers of E-Trans Solutions Joint Venture and the Megawide-Suyen-Eurolink Consortium after they failed to meet the bid requirements, having substantial deficiencies that did not demonstrate their ability to implement the project.

But representatives of E-Trans and Megawide will file separate motions for reconsideration, which if the Special Bids and Awards Committee gives due course will open their financial bids as well. 

DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla said this is not the "final judgment" on the bidding, as the agency will still evaluate the financial bids within the next 15 calendar days. 

He said the winning bidder would be announced on December 23 or 24, while the notice of award will be issued on the first week of January. The contract signing is set on the last week of the same month. 

Besides AC and MPIC, the AF Consortium is composed of Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Card Finance Corp, Metro Pacific Investments Corp, Smart Communications Inc, Globe Telecom Inc, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp, NTT Data Corp, Cubic Transportation Systems (Australia) Pty Ltd, Octopus Transaction Ltd, MSI Global Private Ltd, Accenture Inc and Indra Systemas SA.

The winning bidder for the AFCS will also have the option to expand this contactless card system to other businesses in and out of the transportation sector, such as in retail transactions.

Similar to Hong Kong's "Octopus" card, the Philippine version would allow daily commuters to use a single ticket when they ride the LRT Lines 1 and 2, as well as the MRT Line 3. The three rail services have a combined ridership of a million a day.

One of the Aquino administration's public-private partnership (PPP) projects, the proposed tap-and-go system, which the winning bidder will operate for 10 years, will also enhance fare collection efficiency by reducing leakage and fraud.

In the future, the system can be expanded to include other transport modes such as buses, toll roads and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

InterAksyon.com is the online news portal of TV5, which Pangilinan also chairs.

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