RDC 7 eyes online ticketing, integration of terminal fee payment with ship tickets

THE Economic Development Committee of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 will push for the implementation of an online ticketing system and integration of terminal fees in the purchase of shipping tickets in the region.

This measure is meant not only to facilitate a seamless flow of travelers but also to eventually eliminate the long queues both in the purchase of shipping tickets and payment of port terminal fees, according to Melanie Ng, private sector representative for RDC 7 and regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Central Visayas.

Ng said this proposed measure is still under discussion in the EDC and the committee is also waiting for an update and feedback from the Cebu Port Authority (CPA).

“CPA and the Philippine Ports Authority have been both very cooperative in discussing this matter moving forward. RDC 7 will surely lead the way. This is a project we want to achieve in this term,” said Ng earlier this month.

“Our RDC term is three years, but hopefully during President BBM’s (Bongbong Marcos’) term, it will materialize,” Ng said.

CPA supportive

In a text message sent to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, CPA’s Port Management Department expressed its support for the project. In fact, it said, CPA already started this undertaking a few years ago, but the plan was not realized.

“Now, we are reviving that plan. We are currently in talks with two shipping lines that are amenable to the plan for pilot testing,” the CPA said, referring to the integration of the terminal fees into the shipping tickets.

The agency added that “a memorandum of agreement is currently being drafted that would contain terms and conditions on the manner of collection, its basis, schedule and other related provisions that may be agreed upon by parties.”

According to the CPA, 13 out of 19 shipping lines at the Cebu base port and five out of 14 shipping lines at outports or ports outside of Cebu City already have an online ticketing system.

But the collection or payment of terminal fees is still being handled separately by the CPA and isn’t integrated yet into the ticketing system of the shipping lines. Thus, passengers still need to line up for this.

Avoid redundancies

While they haven’t received the mechanics on how to integrate the terminal fees in shipping tickets, the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association (PCSA) said its member-shipping companies are open to systems that will improve efficiencies and avoid redundancies.

“We just want to make sure the business processes of the member companies will not be compromised,” the PCSA on Wednesday said. The PCSA is the largest shipping association in the Philippines and the biggest in terms of total gross tonnage of ships combined. It represents 50 members with more than 600 vessels from small to medium in size.

In 2020, the PPA was eyeing to roll out its automated ticketing system in all ports by 2021.

A demonstration and test run of the system was held on Sept. 18, 2020 at the Port of Batangas and Port of Calapan.

This project was designed to facilitate ease of doing business, remove fixing and ticket scalping, ensure maritime safety by preventing overbooking and overloading of passengers, and improve port processes.

However, in April this year, the PPA said the contract for the unified online ticketing system for ship passengers was canceled during the transition of the new administration in the PPA in July, according to PPA general manager Jay Santiago in a report.

But he wants to revive the program, citing it as the “ultimate solution” to the long queues in ports, especially during long weekends.