I bought a GPass last Monday. It's a small round chip that allows its users to ride the Metro Rail Transit without a ticket, borne out of the partnership between the MRT and GLOBE TELECOM. After five days of using it, I found several disadvantages:
- Aside from being more expensive that the stored-value ticket at the outset (100 peso GPass with 50 peso value compared to the 100 peso ticket with 100 peso value), it's also more expensive in the long run, charging users a few cents more per ride than the normal ticket fare.
- There are only around two turnstiles in any MRT station that have special GPass support, so unless you know where they are beforehand, you certainly wouldn't want to be in an MRT station that's packed full of people (e.g. South-bound North Avenue station at 7:30 o'clock in the morning), since you might end up joining the wrong queue.
- You need to keep at least 16 pesos in your GPass, or you won't be able to use it. This means that you won't be able to save any money. Stored-value ticket users can usually save a few pesos by using their almost depleted tickets (say, with 2 pesos remaining) for a single bonus ride.
- I had trouble reloading my GPass this week, since most of the GPass stands I've went to claimed to be offline at the time. I could have theoretically reloaded using GCash (an electronic money service by GLOBE), but I never bothered to deposit money for GCash, so my account was empty. The way I had to buy a ticket from the trusty old MRT ticket-booth because my "high-tech" GPass was rendered useless felt like some sort of parable. Very disappointing.
It's not completely useless, though. Certain MRT turnstiles are sometimes disabled to control the flow of people going in and out, and this is where the GPass can come in handy. Last night, as usual, there were long lines of people exiting the North Avenue station. I was about to sit and wait for the people to disappear when I noticed one turnstile that was disabled but had a GPass sensor. I smiled as I went effortlessly out via the disabled turnstile while others watched from their queues.