Transport Minister hears concerns, says commuters no longer have to switch to SimplyGo by June

Submitted by Stomper Kelvin, AD

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The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is extending the use of ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards alongside SimplyGo-compatible cards on public transport past June 1.

It was previously announced that after that date, commuters will not be able to use Nets FlashPay cards or older ez-link cards that are not on the SimplyGo platform as only SimplyGo can be used from then on.

We will be extending the existing adult card-based ticketing (CBT) system to run it in parallel with the #SimplyGo...

Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Monday, 22 January 2024


Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat, who recently replaced scandal-hit S. Iswaran, said in a Facebook post on Jan 22: "LTA’s recent announcement that the card-based ticketing (CBT) system for adult commuters will stop operations from June 1 has caused some public reactions."

He apologised for the delays commuters experienced when they tried to convert their existing ez-link cards to SimplyGo-compatible.

"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," said Mr Chee.

"I have discussed your feedback and concerns with Ministry of Transport 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."

[LTA to extend card-based ticketing system for adult commuters] LTA’s recent announcement that the card-based...

Posted by Chee Hong Tat 徐芳达 on Monday, 22 January 2024


This is probably good news to Stomper Kelvin, who could not use his SimplyGo card even after topping it up twice.

He recounted: "On New Year's Day, I took a bus from Punggol to Selatar camp and I then realised my SimplyGo Passion card credit was low.

"So I used the SimplyGo app to top up $20 but it did not show. Thinking maybe my bank transaction didn't go through, I topped up $20 again and it still did not show.

"I checked my bank statement and it already went through. I couldn't call the SimplyGo hotline because it was a public holiday.

"After a few hours, I saw my top-up was successful and there are $42.75 in my SimplyGo app. I took a bus to Serangoon but still couldn't use my card."

He checked the card at an MRT station and the balance was $42.75, but when he went to take a train, the card didn't work again.

"I contacted SimplyGo and was told it would take 24 hours to update my credit for me to use," said the Stomper.

"What was the point of using the app to top up, if I can't use the card immediately?

"Also, every time, I tap in the bus or MRT station, it doesn't show the balance on the screen. I can check only on the app."

A similar thing happened to Stomper AD.

He recounted: "Recently, I encountered a troubling situation with my SimplyGo card. Despite topping it up with $40, I discovered my card was blocked when I attempted to take a bus. This was unexpected and inconvenient.

"Upon inquiring at the ticket counter, I was informed that I was responsible for ensuring that the card balance did not fall below $3. However, this requirement seems unreasonable, especially considering that the legacy system did not allow users to go into debt and always displayed the remaining balance visibly."

He said that with SimplyGo, a user can inadvertently go into debt.

"Furthermore, I was advised to constantly check my balance via the app to avoid such situations. This expectation seems impractical and places an unnecessary burden on the commuter.

"If the system allows a user to go into debt, it should automatically unblock the card upon top-up. Alternatively, the system should not permit debt like the legacy system."

In his Facebook post, Mr Chee explained that SimplyGo does not store fares and card balance data in the card itself and 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," said the Transport Minister.

"Unfortunately, there is currently no technical solution to this."

He added: "I have tasked LTA to study ways to enhance the features and improve the user experience for (SimplyGo) cards, in particular possible solutions for the 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 Jan 9 to 22 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."