LTA halts transition to SimplyGo, Transport Minister acknowledges commuters’ concerns

Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat apologised for the delay when commuters tried switching to SimplyGo.

Hannah Martens | January 22, 2024, 04:36 PM



Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will extend the use of the current card-based ticketing (CBT) system for adult commuters, delaying the switch to SimplyGo following public feedback.

This comes almost two weeks after the announcement that non-SimplyGo cards cannot be used for public transport starting Jun. 1, 2024.

Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat said in his Facebook post on Jan. 22 that MOT will spend an additional S$40 million so that commuters can continue to use their EZ Link cards and NETS FlashPay cards.

Chee also apologised on behalf of MOT and LTA for the delays commuters experienced when they tried to convert their existing EZ Link cards to SimplyGo.

"This could have been avoided with better preparation," he wrote.

Chee acknowledged the "concerns of commuters who want to continue seeing their fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and bus card readers".

LTA will allow commuters who bought or converted to SimplyGo cards from Jan. 9 to 22, 2024, to switch back to CBT cards at no additional charge.

Concession card holders with SimplyGo cards issued or converted on or before Jan. 22 can also switch back to CBT cards.

He said: "LTA will need some time to work out this switching-back process, and will announce details once it is ready."

SimplyGo benefits

Chee said in his post that account-based ticketing (ABT) cards like SimplyGo and bank cards "have their benefits", citing an example of losing one's card.

If commuter loses their registered ABT card, the balance can be protected as the value is stored in the user's account, while if one loses their CBT card, the value stored in the card will be lost.

ABT also allows commuters to use their bank cards and mobile wallets to pay public transport fares.

Chee noted that ABT cards have grown more popular, with about 40 per cent of adult commuters now using bank cards or mobile wallets.

Photo via Chee Hong Tat/Facebook

No technical solution to solve not displaying card balance

Chee also pointed out that ABT cards do not store fares and card balance data in the card itself.

It would require a few seconds to retrieve the information from a backend system to display at fare gates and bus card readers.

"This would slow down the flow of commuters and cause long queues, especially during peak hours," he said.

He added that there are currently no technical solutions to this problem.

Chee said he tasked LTA to study ways to enhance the features and improve the user experience for ABT cards, specifically possible solutions for ABT cards to display fare deductions and stored value card balances.

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Top photo via Mothership