In an unexpected turn of events, Singapore’s push for the full adoption of the SimplyGo payment platform faced a roadblock, with Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat acknowledging a “judgment error.”
This misstep has prompted a reconsideration of plans, and the older card-based ticketing (CBT) system will continue until at least 2030, according to Channel NewsAsia.
Underestimating Commuter Preferences
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) underestimated the strong preference of some commuters who value the ability to view fare deductions and card balances at station gates and bus card readers. Minister Chee expressed regret for this oversight, recognizing the importance of aligning with commuters’ needs.
Apologizing to commuters for the inconvenience caused, Minister Chee announced that the CBT system for adult commuters will remain operational until 2030. This decision follows the spotlight on the issue since January 9, when LTA initially proposed phasing out the older ticketing system in favor of SimplyGo.
LTA’s plan to phase out the older ticketing system was reversed on January 22, less than a month after the initial announcement. The decision to maintain the CBT system for adult commuters was driven by feedback from commuters and the recognition that their preferences should be prioritized.
Cost Implications and Government Support
To support the decision not to sunset the CBT system, an estimated S$40 million will be invested in new hardware and maintaining the existing ticketing infrastructure. Minister Chee clarified that this cost would not be passed on to public transport fares; instead, the government would bear the expense.
With the extension of the CBT system, Singapore’s public transport landscape will now comprise three systems: SimplyGo, the CBT system for adults, and the CBT system for concession cardholders. The government is considering the possibility of progressively integrating the two CBT systems over time.
Acknowledging the challenges with SimplyGo, Minister Chee has tasked the LTA with enhancing its features. The aim is to address commuters’ concerns about the inability to view fare deductions and card balances at station gates and bus card readers, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience.
Looking Towards the Future
While the CBT system for adults is extended until 2030, the authorities will decide later whether to further extend its lifespan. A critical factor in this decision will be finding solutions to technical difficulties, ensuring a smooth and efficient process for displaying fare deductions and card balance information.