In a Facebook post on Monday (Jan 22), Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat announced that Land Transport Authority (LTA) has decided to extend the card-based ticketing system for adult commuters, a move that came after the Government took in feedback and concerns from the ground and promptly moved to fix the issues.
Minister Chee, who took over the Transport portfolio last week, apologised on behalf of Ministry of Transport and LTA, for the delays commuters experienced when they tried to convert their existing EZ Link cards. He also revealed that the government will spend $40 million so that commuters can continue to use EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards for public transport.
The Government has listened to feedback on the ground and is extending the usage of the CBT EZ-link so that people can continue to view the card deductions and balances at the fare gates. Minister Chee also explained the benefits of account-based ticketing cards where the value is stored in user’s account and will not be lost if the card is misplaced.
“LTA’s recent announcement that the card-based ticketing (CBT) system for adult commuters will stop operations from 1 June 2024 has caused some public reactions.
I apologise on behalf of MOT and LTA for the delays commuters experienced when they tried to convert their existing EZ Link cards. This could have been avoided with better preparation. LTA has worked to address this issue. It has updated the SimplyGo app and speeded up the card conversion process.
I also hear and acknowledge the concerns of commuters who want to continue seeing their fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and bus card readers.
I have discussed your feedback and concerns with MOT and LTA. We have decided to extend the use of the current CBT system for adult commuters, and not to sunset the system in 2024 as originally planned. We will spend an additional $40 million, so that commuters can continue to use EZ Link cards and NETS FlashPay cards if they wish to.
Account-based ticketing (ABT) cards like SimplyGo and bank cards (e.g. credit and debit cards) have their benefits. If a commuter misplaces his registered ABT stored value card, the balance can be protected because the value is stored in the user’s account. Whereas if they lose a CBT card, the value stored in the card will be lost. Some people buy ABT stored value cards for their family members, so that they can top up the value more conveniently using the SimplyGo app. In addition, ABT enables commuters to use bank cards and mobile wallets to pay public transport fares. Over time, ABT cards have grown more popular. About 40% of adult commuters now use bank cards or mobile wallets (see attached infographic).
However, because ABT cards do not store fares and card balance data in the card itself, it would take a few seconds to retrieve the information from the backend system to display at the fare gates and bus card readers. This would slow down the flow of commuters and cause long queues, especially during peak hours. Unfortunately, there is currently no technical solution to this. This is the case elsewhere too. For example, ABT cards in London and Hong Kong also do not display fare deductions and card balances at fare gates, unlike their CBT cards.
I have tasked LTA to study ways to enhance the features and improve the user experience for ABT cards, in particular possible solutions for ABT cards to display fare deductions and stored value card balances at fare gates and bus card readers.
Meanwhile, LTA will allow commuters who had bought or converted to SimplyGo cards from 9 January 2024 to today (22 January 2024) to switch back to CBT cards at no additional charge. Concession card holders with SimplyGo cards that were issued or converted on or before 22 January 2024, including seniors and students, can also do so. LTA will need some time to work out this switching-back process, and will announce details once it is ready.”
Feature image: Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission