PAP MPs call on the Government to iron out concerns about SimplyGo before switching fully to the payment system    


Forty million.  

That is the figure that grabbed many people’s attention following the government’s decision to allow commuters to continue using older transport payment cards. But there had been so much misreporting and misunderstanding of the figure in the media and public. 

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat had said on Jan 22 that the authorities will spend $40 million to allow commuters to continue using Ez-link non-concession adult cards and Nets FlashPay cards, and not to “sunset” the system this year as originally planned. The card-based ticketing (CBT) system was reaching the end of life this year anyway. And to continue using it, the $40 million would have to be spent regardless of whether Simply Go is adopted.

Who funds the $40 million? Is the cost one-off or recurring? Could we have avoided the cost if we didn’t dismantle the old system? Will public transport fares increase? These are questions on many people’s minds. understands that the $40 million is the capital and operating expenditure that the Government must bear to enhance the existing system like hardware replacements, and to maintain and operate the system thereafter.     

It is not an “avoidable cost” as some have mistakenly concluded. There would be no need to incur this cost if the Government had let the current CBT system sunset after its end of life.    

Reply to the media’s queries, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that the $40 million will be funded by the government. Public transport fares are set based on a formula. The cost of providing fare payment systems is not specifically accounted for in the formula, the LTA spokesperson said. 

The People’s Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament have welcomed the government’s decision to postpone the planned full adoption of the SimplyGo payment system. Several MPs have filed questions relating to the SimplyGo issue for the next Parliament sitting in February. 

MP Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport, told that he is heartened that MOT is looking at how it can improve the account-based SimplyGo system. This is needed especially to “inform commuters who are less digitally savvy and have relied a lot on the card-based system”. 

He also highlighted the importance of the availability of options – both the card-based ticketing as well as account-based ticketing – for commuters.   

“The announcement reflects how MOT listens to the public’s feedback, and ensures commuters’ comfort and commuting experience through the public transport system and the payment system,” he added.  

Several MPs also lauded the government for addressing public concerns about the SimplyGo transition promptly. Member of the Transport GPC Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten SMC) said that the Government is receptive to feedback and has acted promptly. MP Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chua Kang SMC) said that the move shows the government’s willingness to listen and adapt.  

But they are concerned about the support for seniors to transit to SimplyGo.  

In a Facebook post, MP Lim said that several residents had told him that they did not know how to use the SimplyGo app and were upset at being pushed to change their existing MRT card. He has since asked LTA if it has considered the impact of compelling seniors who are less IT savvy to switch to the SimplyGo system.  

Citing an elderly resident’s anxiety about navigating the SimplyGo system as an example, MP Yip highlighted the importance of ensuring a smooth and inclusive transition for all. This was evident in the questions he filed, relating to the support available for seniors who were transiting to the system.  

“While SimplyGo offers benefits, we must consider the impact on vulnerable users and ensure adequate support is provided,” he emphasised.  

PAP MPs call for the enhancement of the SimplyGo system  

Several MPs also called for the Government to enhance the SimplyGo system before the mandatory upgrade.  

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC), Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) and Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) asked whether LTA can consider enhancing the SimplyGo system to allow card balances to be displayed on public transport fare readers. 

Dr Lim also asked if SimplyGo can be made compatible with in-vehicle units of motorcars for motoring-related payments. Meanwhile, MP de Souza had asked the Government for the rationale behind phasing out the card-based ticketing system. 

Since the LTA’s announcement about the transition on Jan 9, many commuters have raised their concerns about switching to SimplyGo. A key concern was that commuters would no longer see fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and bus card readers because the information will no longer be displayed due to how SimplyGo works.  

In addition, motorists cannot use the new or updated travel cards that work with SimplyGo – unlike the old ones – to pay for retail and motoring expenses, such as parking and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) fees.   

Another issue that the MPs would be bringing up is the reliability of the SimplyGo app. Dr Lim wanted to know the number of reports of overcharged trips that the Transport Ministry has received from SimplyGo card users in the past three years. MP Pereira has asked the Government about the measures implemented to ensure the reliability and security of the platform and backend system. 

“As this is an interim arrangement, I will continue to represent my residents’ voices to advocate for more user-friendly and cost-effective solutions that make sense for Singapore,” MP Pereira said in a Facebook post. 

PAP MPs are expected to reflect Singaporeans’ concerns relating to the SimplyGo transition during the next Parliament sitting.