A third public private partnership (PPP) project has stalled this month as the government Wednesday announced it was deferring the August 30 bidding for a P1.72-billion deal to design and operate a smart card system for Metro Manila’s three elevated railway lines.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), which is implementing the project, was still revising the concession agreement for the automated fare collection system (AFCS) following talks with the private sector, PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said.
She said in a text message that the concession agreement could be finalized by “early next week.”
“DOTC can’t ignore bidder queries and concerns,” Canilao said.
The bid submissions will then be held 30 days after the release of the final concession agreement, DOTC said. This could put the new bidding deadline in early October.
AFCS project aims to replace outdated ticketing systems used by the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) and Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) with a “contactless-based” smart card technology.
The proposed scheme is similar to the technology used in the mass transit networks of Hong Kong and Singapore where a single card—which is pre-loaded with a cash value—can be used to pay for fare on any of Metro Manila’s three light rail systems.
The AFCS will also allow regulators to apportion payments more efficiently between rail operators more efficiently.
The contract will run for 10 years, including development and delivery, the PPP Center said.
The AFCS deal is the second PPP project to be deferred this week after the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport originally scheduled to be bid out Aug. 28.
Both deferrals followed the failed auction for the P60-billion LRT-1 extension to Cavite last August 15, when three bidders withdrew and one submitted a noncompliant offer.
So far 11 PPP projects—out of dozens of major deals—have been “rolled out” by the PPP Center. Three projects have been awarded since 2011.
Eric Francia, managing director for Ayala Corp., which has partnered with Metro Pacific Investments Corp. for the AFCS bid, said the extension signals that government was willing to listen to the concerns of bidders after the failed LRT-1 auction.
“It’s not easy and I empathize with government. They want to make sure the bid [terms] are not overly favorable to the private sector and we understand that,” Francia said.
Four other groups include the SM Consortium led by the Sy family; Megawide-Suyen-Eurolink Consortium, which will tap the experience of Singapore’s EZ-Link Pte; Comworks Consortium, which includes Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp.; and E-Trans Solutions Joint Venture Inc. Consortium, which includes Eastwest Banking Corp.