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Transport Woes...


Alfrescian (Inf)

SimplyGo app overwhelmed by downloads after move to phase out older cards​


From June 1, passengers will not be able to use older, non-SimplyGo-compatible ez-link cards or Nets FlashPay cards to pay for their transport fares. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Lee Nian Tjoe
Senior Transport Correspondent

JAN 11, 2024

SINGAPORE – The SimplyGo app became less responsive and users were unable to use some of its features on Jan 10, a day after the authorities announced that older adult ez-link cards must be upgraded to the SimplyGo platform for fare payments from June.
Updated versions of the app became available for download on the evening of Jan 10.
In response to questions from The Straits Times, a spokesperson for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said late on Jan 10: “The surge in transaction volume resulted in the app becoming less responsive. TransitLink is working to resolve this and has enhanced the app further to address the issues. The new updated app can now be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores.
“We apologise for the inconvenience.”
TransitLink, an LTA subsidiary, is listed as the developer of the SimplyGo app.
On Jan 10, some users also faced difficulties in upgrading their ez-link cards to the SimplyGo system at SimplyGo ticket offices and ticketing machines at MRT stations and bus interchanges.
The problem persisted into Jan 11, with the SimplyGo Facebook page continuing to draw complaints from those who failed to upgrade their cards.

The LTA spokesperson told ST on Jan 11 that it has been working with its vendors to improve its backend systems to handle more upgrades.
“Commuters who were unsuccessful in upgrading their cards can approach SimplyGo ticket offices or ticketing service centres for assistance,” said the spokesperson.
From June 1, passengers will not be able to use older ez-link cards that are not compatible with SimplyGo or Nets FlashPay cards to pay for their fares on public buses and trains.

Passengers have until Aug 31 to upgrade their older ez-link cards at SimplyGo ticket offices, ticketing service centres and ticketing machines at rail stations and bus interchanges, LTA announced on Jan 9.
As early as the morning of Jan 10, users took to SimplyGo’s Facebook page with complaints about issues they faced in registering for an account, resetting passwords or accessing other features on the app.
As at 7pm on Jan 11, there were more than 150 comments on SimplyGo’s Facebook post.
The SimplyGo app lets users top up their cards, receive notifications on their fares and balances, and block further transactions if the cards are misplaced.
With SimplyGo, fares charged are not displayed on the fare reader.
After repeated tries on the afternoon of Jan 10, ST could not access the app or sign in to the SimplyGo website.
The app issue was resolved after downloading the updated software at 11.30pm, although the app and SimplyGo website still carried a message advising users that functions may be affected because of the “overwhelming” number of app downloads. This advisory was no longer there by the afternoon of Jan 11.
Over at rail stations and bus interchanges, the surge in passengers upgrading their cards at ticketing machines had caused the machines to be less responsive, said LTA.
Automotive industry consultant Say Kwee Neng said he managed to upgrade his ez-link card on Jan 10 at Upper Thomson MRT station after switching to a second ticketing machine, as the screen on the first machine he used froze before the upgrading process could be completed.
The 57-year-old added that it took more than five minutes to get his ez-link card upgraded. ST, however, managed to upgrade an ez-link card in less than a minute at around 10.50pm on Jan 10 at Stevens MRT station.

Facility management purchaser Toh Yong Soon, 48, started using a SimplyGo-compatible ez-link card and the app six months ago.
He said the app was unresponsive on Jan 10, and he did not get notifications on his fare transactions.
“I’ve been travelling blind the whole day, not knowing the fare,” Mr Toh said.
He added that when he was at Bugis MRT station at noon on Jan 10, he saw two men walk away from the ticketing machine after they failed to upgrade their ez-link cards.
As at December 2023, there were 2.6 million adult fare transactions done on SimplyGo daily, compared with 1.5 million such transactions made using ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Address issues in conversion to SimplyGo platform​

JAN 12, 2024, 5:00 AM SGT

I refer to the move by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to transition public transport fare payments for adults to the SimplyGo platform (SimplyGo to replace older payment cards for adult public transport fares from June 1, Jan 10).
Cepas (contactless e-purse application) cards were initially designed to harmonise multi-purpose stored value card standards in Singapore. The proposed replacement has introduced several shortcomings, and increased fragmentation.
First, the top-ups on the SimplyGo app are not instant, and may take up to about 15 minutes. This can cause significant inconvenience, especially for commuters in a hurry. Commuters also cannot top up while a trip is in progress.
Second, users are unable to see fare deductions at the point of use without using a phone app. This lack of transparency can lead to confusion.
Third, as mentioned by LTA, cards converted to SimplyGo cannot be used with other Cepas applications, particularly motoring applications, limiting their functionality and versatility.
These issues not only affect regular users but also pose challenges for specific groups such as tourists and the elderly.
Tourists, unfamiliar with the local systems, may find it difficult to navigate the new app, while the elderly may struggle with the digital platform.

I wonder whether LTA is pushing this digitalisation move for the sake of digitalisation, or to genuinely make life easier.
I urge the relevant authorities to address these issues and consider the practical implications of this transition for all user groups.

Shawn Lee Chieh Loong


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Unclear how SimplyGo is an upgrade from EZ-Link​

JAN 15, 2024

It is heartening to see that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is actively seeking ways to enhance commuting experiences and making necessary trade-offs to ease its financial pressure (askST: Why can’t I see fares charged on card readers with SimplyGo?, Jan 13).
Under the SimplyGo system, commuters are notified of their travel fares through the SimplyGo app. Commuters can also keep track of past transactions and block transactions for a misplaced card.
However, these functions exist in the EZ-Link app also, raising questions about whether this transition from EZ-Link to SimplyGo can be called an upgrade.
Additionally, the inconvenience of relying on the app or ticketing machine to check travel fares and card balances instead of having them shown on the fare gates and card readers has made commuters unhappy.
As trivial as it may seem, the display of travel fares and card balances makes me aware straight away of any discrepancies in the amount deducted, and also lets me gauge my travel expenditure to plan my monthly budget.
As a relatively new system, SimplyGo should continue to evolve, with room for improvement in its programming and execution. LTA should consider how the removal of certain features can impact the travel experience of commuters.
While LTA explores alternative ways to meet the differing interests of commuters, we can also assist the less tech-savvy in transitioning and adapting to this new system.

Jamie Ang Yu Man, 18


Alfrescian (Inf)

Free exchange of Nets FlashPay cards at SimplyGo ticket offices postponed ‘until further notice’​


A sign pasted at a SimplyGo ticket office at Bedok Bus Interchange on Jan 19 informs commuters that the card exchange service for Nets FlashPay card is now unavailable. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Lee Nian Tjoe
Senior Transport Correspondent

Jan 19, 2024

SINGAPORE - A free exchange of Nets FlashPay cards for Nets Prepaid cards that was originally due to start on Jan 19 at public transport ticket offices has been postponed “until further notice”.
This planned exchange is part of a move by the authorities to phase out Nets FlashPay and some adult ez-link cards for public transport fare payments from June in preparation for a transition to SimplyGo, an account-based ticketing platform for bus and rail trips.
The free exchange was to have taken place between Jan 19 and July 18 at SimplyGo ticket offices in MRT stations and bus interchanges.
But in an update at midnight on Jan 18 to an earlier Facebook post, Nets, a payment firm, said: “Please be informed that the card exchange service for Nets FlashPay card provided at SimplyGo ticket offices is temporarily unavailable until further notice.”
It did not state when the exchange would become available.
When The Straits Times visited the SimplyGo ticket office at Tampines MRT station at 8am on Jan 19, a staff member said the exchange had been postponed until further notice.

A notice saying that the SimplyGo upgrade feature on the ticketing machine is temporarily unavailable at Tampines MRT station on Jan 19. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Staff were informed of the change only on the morning of Jan 19, ST was told.

The exchange was announced after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Jan 9 that from June 1, commuters must pay for their adult bus and train fares with a Nets Prepaid card, an ez-link card that has been updated to being SimplyGo-compatible, a contactless bank card, or a credit or debit card added to a mobile wallet.
The move does not affect passengers using concession cards, including seniors and students.

The free exchange was to have taken place between Jan 19 and July 18 at SimplyGo ticket offices in MRT stations and bus interchanges. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Responding to ST’s queries on Jan 19, Nets said FlashPay card holders may continue using their cards for public transport and topping them up at ticketing machines until June 1.
It did not state the reasons for the delay in the free exchange, and whether this would affect the transition schedule for FlashPay card holders who use them to pay for public transport trips.
ST has also contacted LTA for comment.
After it is phased out, the Nets FlashPay card will no longer be accepted for public transport payments. But it can still be used to pay for shopping and motoring expenses such as carpark and Electronic Road Pricing charges.


Alfrescian (Inf)

SimplyGo: An upgrade but for whom?​

Complaints about the shift to a single platform underline the need to fully grasp the various needs of all commuters.​

Neeta Lachmandas

The move to SimplyGo, a single platform for fare payment on public buses and trains, was announced on Jan 9 by the Land Transport Authority and has since been met with complaints and concerns. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Jan 19, 2024

The recent outcry over changes to payment methods for public transport, involving the EZ-Link and SimplyGo platforms, holds a lesson that the needs of the actual end user – the customer – must be the starting point.
From June 1, adult fares on public buses and trains can no longer be paid using ez-link cards that are not compatible with the SimplyGo platform. Nets FlashPay cards will also not be accepted. These changes were announced on Jan 9 by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and have since been met with complaints and concerns.
The ez-link card has been around for a long time as a familiar, seamless card in one’s purse or pocket, so for some people, getting on board with changes around it seems an unnecessary complication.
But it wasn’t just that. It was the loss of some useful functions in what was touted as an “upgrade”.

Fare questions​

Sticking points that have come up in public complaints to The Straits Times Forum page and elsewhere include the fact that commuters are not able to see fare information when they are swiping their upgraded cards at MRT fare gates and card readers on buses.
Another source of concern is that commuters also cannot see their card balances on the spot, unlike with the old ez-link system. They now must download an app or physically go to a machine to check their card balances.
A simple explanation for all this – under SimplyGo’s platform, fares are processed at the back end, unlike in the legacy card-based ticketing system using older ez-link cards and Nets FlashPay cards, where transactions are handled at MRT fare gates and card readers on buses.

LTA has explained that when a user taps the SimplyGo ez-link card, it is possible to display the card balance and deduction information from the back-end system. But it would take a few seconds and slow down passenger movement.
It is undeniable that the SimplyGo system provides much more convenience to many commuters who can use their contactless bank cards, or payment cards added to their mobile wallets. However, one should not ignore the concerns that have been raised by many commuters about not being able to see their fares or balances.
I confess that I sometimes wonder when I use my credit card to pay for an MRT or bus fare whether the right amount will be charged. I suspect many of us have at some point had that thought cross our minds. This is especially so when the Singapore public transport system still uses a distance-based fare system instead of a flat fee.

As someone who is not a daily checker of credit card statements, will I need to check my banking app more frequently or do I just need to have blind trust that nothing will go wrong, and I will always be charged the correct amount?
There were other issues too.
On Jan 10, the day after LTA announced the ez-link changes, users took to SimplyGo’s Facebook page with complaints about issues they faced in registering for an account, resetting passwords or accessing other features on the app.

Technology is fallible and computers can glitch.
As public transport users navigate these intricacies in fare deductions, we can expect a palpable unease permeating the daily commute. Have they been charged the correct fare? How much do they have left on the card? Does it meet the minimum threshold of what is needed before the next ride?
It prompts the question: Was there sufficient consumer testing before these changes were implemented? LTA did announce in 2020 that it was conducting a pilot scheme to expand the use of SimplyGo to include adult ez-link cards. But one has to then question to what extent LTA grasped the potential discomfort caused by, for example, not immediately showing fare information.

Understanding the customer​

The LTA issue unfolds against the backdrop of a rapidly digitalising world, where consumer expectations are shaped not only by the immediate service, but also by the holistic experience offered.
Understanding these expectations becomes paramount for service providers and businesses embracing digital transformations.
How often have we heard the refrain that consumers are getting more demanding? If I had a dollar for the number of times I have heard this over the years that I have been working on customer satisfaction and customer experience design, I would be a very rich person.
Could it be that there is a lack of understanding of customer expectations, customer fears and consumer psychology? And for a significant segment of the population, the rapid pace of digitalisation means that they must grapple with carrying on with their daily responsibilities in a way that is new and perhaps uncomfortable to them.
Given the recent spate of news surrounding scams happening via mobile devices and apps, is it unreasonable to assume that there is some understandable fear in having to download even more apps?
Beneath the surface of what might be perceived as demanding customers lies a universal truth – customers want to feel valued and secure.
It’s not an insatiable desire for perfection; rather, it’s a simple yearning to know that their needs are heard and understood.

Inclusivity in a digital world​

There is also the broader issue of digital inclusivity.
One of the justifications brought up by LTA for the broad-based roll-out is that two out of three commuters were already using a SimplyGo system.
Using contactless bank cards to tap and go, without the need to have a separate card for commuting, obviously works for most customers.
But what about the rest? In just December, there were 1.5 million adult fare transactions made each day using ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards, according to the authority. This compared with 2.6 million for SimplyGo.
It is worth remembering that not everyone has equal access to the latest technologies, smartphones or even the ability to navigate and understand apps.
The phrase “Download the app” has become a universal slogan for every new digital solution. Does this need a rethink? What are the apps really doing and who are they doing it for?
As we roll out digital services, especially in areas such as public transport, which involves a large part of the community, there must be a concerted effort to understand the expectations of all, not just the majority.
This would require comprehensive research into the specific needs of the various demographics, ensuring that digital advancements do not inadvertently exclude certain sections of society.
London’s transition from the Oyster card to contactless payments, for example, has not upended one in favour of the other. Currently, the Oyster cards can be used on public transport in London, including the London Underground, buses, trams and many local train services. And they can be topped up at any London Underground station, corner shops and information centres.
It is true that no system can perfectly meet the needs of every single individual. This underscores the need for better communication.

When LTA made its announcement on Jan 9, perhaps it could have pre-empted potential issues through a comprehensive communication strategy. The public needed to be informed not just about the advantages, but also the challenges of the new system.
The announcement could have outlined the anticipated problems that commuters would be facing and provided a clear guide on how to navigate them.
Could there have been more ambassadors at stations to assist with queries? Was there a dedicated helpline set up to address concerns?
A robust communication strategy is not merely a formality; it is the bridge that spans the chasm between innovation and consumer understanding. It transforms potential chaos into informed collaboration, fostering a sense of shared responsibility.
At the end of the day, a delicate balance between progress and inclusivity must be met.
  • Neeta Lachmandas is the founder of ConsciousService, a training and consulting company. She is the former executive director of the Institute of Service Excellence at Singapore Management University and former assistant chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board. She is also the author of Stay Relevant To Stay Profitable.


Alfrescian (Inf)

LTA shelves plan to replace older public transport payment cards with SimplyGo by June 1​


The authorities will spend an extra $40 million to allow commuters to continue using ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Lee Nian Tjoe and Kok Yufeng

Jan 22, 20234

SINGAPORE - Holders of older ez-link cards that are not on SimplyGo, an account-based ticketing platform, will no longer have to update their cards by June 1 to pay for public transport.
Nets FlashPay cards will also continue being accepted for adult fare payments, and there will be no need to exchange them for a Nets Prepaid card to pay for bus and train rides by June 1.
The authorities said on Jan 22 that they are pulling the plug on the planned transition after public backlash.
Announcing the change in a Facebook post on Jan 22, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the authorities will spend an extra $40 million to allow commuters to continue using ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards, which use a card-based ticketing system that stores transaction data on the cards.
This is unlike SimplyGo, which processes fare payments at the back end.
“We have decided to extend the use of the current (card-based ticketing system) for adult commuters, and not to sunset the system in 2024 as originally planned,” Mr Chee wrote.
The decision, he added, was made after considering concerns among commuters since the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) announcement on Jan 9 that they would not be able to see fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and bus card readers with the switch to SimplyGo.

Mr Chee apologised for the delays experienced by commuters who tried to convert their older ez-link cards since Jan 9.
The Straits Times reported that the SimplyGo app became overwhelmed a day after the news broke, with users unable to use some of the app’s features. Passengers also faced difficulties in upgrading their ez-link cards to SimplyGo at ticketing offices and machines at MRT stations and bus interchanges, with the problem persisting into Jan 11.
“This could have been avoided with better preparation,” Mr Chee acknowledged, adding that LTA has worked to deal with these issues by updating the SimplyGo app and speeding up the card-conversion process.

Those who updated their ez-link cards to SimplyGo between Jan 9 and Jan 22, or bought SimplyGo-compatible ez-link cards during that period, will be able to exchange their cards for those that rely on the older ticketing system for free, if they prefer.
LTA said details about how this card exchange will be done will be made public by the end of February, citing the need for preparation time to minimise inconvenience to passengers.
Concession card holders, such as students and seniors, will also be able to revert to non-SimplyGo cards as part of this exchange.

Mr Chee said he has given LTA the task of studying ways to improve account-based ticketing cards. In particular, he has asked the agency to look into possible solutions for these newer cards to display fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and bus card readers.
The minister noted, however, that for the moment, there is no technical solution to this problem, and Singapore is not alone in facing this issue.
Like SimplyGo, account-based transit cards used in London and Hong Kong do not display fare deductions and card balances at fare gates as well, he said.
Earlier, LTA had said in response to media queries that while it was technically possible for fare and card balance information to be shown at fare gates and bus card readers with SimplyGo, it would take a few seconds to retrieve this information from the back-end system, and slow down the entry and exit of passengers. This would result in longer queues.
With SimplyGo, the idea was for a user to be able to view fare deductions and balances using a smartphone app, which can notify the user once he or she taps out from a bus or MRT stop.
Alternatively, users can also obtain fare information at ticketing machines at MRT stations and bus interchanges.
Other touted benefits of SimplyGo are that users are able to block further transactions through the app if they lose the cards and top up their travel cards on the move.
Yet many who still use older ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards expressed frustration over the reduced functionality that came with switching to SimplyGo. For instance, after the transition, the updated ez-link cards can no longer be used to pay for motoring expenses such as parking and Electronic Road Pricing charges.
After drawing flak from the public, a sign that the authorities had changed their minds came on Jan 19, when a free exchange of Nets FlashPay cards for Nets Prepaid cards that was planned to start that day was postponed on the day itself “until further notice”.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Phasing out older payment cards in SimplyGo switch a ‘judgment error’, says Transport Minister​


Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the authorities will learn from the SimplyGo issue and do better in future. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Esther Loi and Lee Nian Tjoe

FEB 13, 2024

SINGAPORE - The authorities made a “judgment error” in deciding to phase out older public transport payment cards for adults, and underestimated how commuters wanted to continue seeing fare information and card balances, said Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat.
“I apologise to our commuters for what happened,” said Mr Chee in an interview with reporters on Jan 26. “We will learn from this and we will do better in future.”
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had announced on Jan 9 that it would retire the older card-based ticketing system – which ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards run on – by June 1. These cards were to be replaced by SimplyGo, an account-based system that processes fare payments at the back end, unlike the older system of storing transaction data on cards.
But the announcement was met with an outcry from passengers, who expressed frustration about their inability to see fare deductions and card balances when tapping out. Some who tried upgrading their ez-link cards on Jan 10 also faced delays due to a surge in transaction volume.
On Jan 22, Mr Chee said the Government will spend an additional $40 million to extend the lifespan of the card-based ticketing system and allow passengers to continue using the older payment cards.
Speaking to the media on Jan 26, he acknowledged that the LTA had underestimated the strong preference of some commuters who wanted to continue viewing fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and card readers.
“We understand your feedback and concerns. We respect your preferences. We want to give you this option to continue to be able to choose which system best meets your needs,” he added.

Mr Chee said LTA had consulted more than 1,000 commuters from 2020 to 2023 about SimplyGo.
LTA decided to retain the concession card system after receiving feedback from seniors, and placed machines at bus interchanges and MRT stations to make it easier for commuters to check their fare transactions and card balances without using the SimplyGo app, he noted.
“If we had consulted more widely, and gathered views from a wider group of commuters before we made the decision... we would have come across the stronger reactions and preferences that some commuters had expressed,” he said.

Asked if there is an optimal number of people to consult for such policies, Mr Chee said his ministry is reviewing this.
There is no fixed number to get a representative range of views, he said, adding that in hindsight, it would have been useful for the Government to hear a wider range of views and concerns on certain issues such as SimplyGo, which affects many people.
The additional $40 million will allow the card-based ticketing system to run till at least 2030.

LTA had previously said that fare deductions and card balances are not displayed at fare gates for payment cards under SimplyGo, as it takes a few seconds to retrieve the information from SimplyGo’s back-end system. This will slow the entry and exit of passengers and result in longer queues.
Mr Chee said he has tasked LTA to study how to improve SimplyGo’s features and the user experience.
Noting that there is no technical solution at the moment for the fare display issue, he said LTA will work with other government agencies and industry partners on this.
Commuters whom The Straits Times spoke to acknowledged Mr Chee’s apology, but hoped the Government would learn from this incident and improve how it handles similar situations in future.
Ms Serena Ng, 52, said the authorities “should do a better job before rolling anything out”.
The personal assistant added that the authorities should have carried out more user testing and got a greater understanding of the needs of commuters in different age groups before deciding on the transition.

Citing better communication as an area for improvement, Ms Ng said her own card upgrade process was not user-friendly, and her elderly parents were confused about whether concession cards could still be used under the new system.
Facilities management executive Nor Isran Kamsani, 43, who uses the old ez-link card for commuting, hopes that the authorities will not go back on their word to keep the old card-based system in operation, and that they continue to maintain it properly till 2030.
Communications manager Amanda Poh, 32, wants to see the Government follow through on its promise to review how it engages the public to get feedback.
“I don’t know the last time the Government apologised and reacted so quickly,” she said.

Timeline: From ez-link to SimplyGo saga​

April 2002: Launch of original ez-link card​

Established by LTA, this rechargeable contactless card can be used across the public transport network.

September 2009: Switch to the Cepas ez-link card​

The new ez-link card can also be used for motoring and retail purposes, such as at carparks.

March 2017: Trial for contactless Mastercard bank cards​

More than 100,000 commuters pay via their Mastercard bank cards for an average of 60,000 daily journeys.

April 2019: Official launch of SimplyGo​

SimplyGo is introduced as an alternative payment method for public transport rides.

Jan 9, 2024: Replacement of old ticketing system with SimplyGo by June 1, 2024​

LTA announces that it would retire the old card-based ticketing system, requiring adult commuters to upgrade their older ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards to SimplyGo-compatible ones.

Jan 10: Inability of back-end systems to handle large volume of transactions​

Many commuters have trouble accessing the SimplyGo mobile app and upgrading their older cards at physical ticketing machines or ticket offices.

Jan 12: Outpouring of complaints on the inability to display fares​

Commuters raise concerns about not being able to see their SimplyGo card balances and fare deductions. While it is “technically possible” to do so, it would take a few seconds and slow down commuter flow, says LTA.

Jan 19: Postponement of free exchange of Nets FlashPay cards for SimplyGo-compatible ones​

Hours before the scheduled exchange is due to start on Jan 19, payment firm Nets says on Facebook that the card exchange service would be temporarily unavailable until further notice.

Jan 22: Shelving of plans to retire the old public transport payment system​

Following public dissent over the transition, LTA says that it will extend the use of the old card-based ticketing system.

Jan 26: Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat apologises for SimplyGo saga​

Calling this incident a “judgment error”, Mr Chee says that LTA should have consulted more commuters on their opinions about the transition.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: ‘Yes’ to new fare cards if commuters had known about $40m​

JAN 30, 2024

I am disappointed that the Land Transport Authority is thinking of spending $40 million to extend the usage of the existing fare cards, mainly so that commuters can see fare deductions and card balances when tapping out at fare gates (Phasing out older payment cards in SimplyGo switch a ‘judgment error’, says Transport Minister, Jan 26).
If the public had known that so much money would be involved in keeping the old system, we would definitely be able to accept the minor inconvenience of not being able to see fare deductions and card balances when we tap out.
Therefore it was the right decision to retire the older cards but commuters just needed to know the reason for the change and the costs involved for keeping them.

Lin Hay Tsu


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Explain what happened during SimplyGo U-turn​

JAN 24, 2024

The announcement that commuters no longer need to switch to SimplyGo as the Land Transport Authority reversed its decision to scrap the older ticketing system by June was unexpected (LTA shelves plan to replace older public transport payment cards with SimplyGo by June, Jan 22).
After money was spent on a supposedly well-thought-through initiative, another $40 million will be spent so that commuters can continue using ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards for public transport.
It was reported the funds will be spent on maintaining and replacing the hardware of the card-based ticketing system. The authorities should still give a breakdown and account for the money spent.
In addition, the hiccups commuters experienced in the upgrading process are disappointing.
It was reported that people could not use some of the SimplyGo app’s features and passengers faced difficulties in upgrading their ez-link cards to SimplyGo cards after the news of the conversion broke.
I hope the authorities will explain clearly to commuters what happened during this U-turn.

Ng Lee Kwang


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Improve accuracy of timings for buses on MyTransport app​

JAN 18, 2024

Like many commuters, I use the MyTransport app to plan trips, and I would commend the app as it can potentially help commuters to plan trips and eliminate waiting time.
However, the timings shown in the MyTransport app fluctuate wildly and are inaccurate at times, causing frustration for commuters who end up wasting time waiting for buses.
The feedback I received from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is that the bus-arrival prediction times are based on a combination of scheduled bus departure times provided by the bus operator and real-time bus information.
The system assumes that a bus will depart at the time specified in the schedule by the bus operator.
I urge LTA to review the MyTransport app to eliminate the inaccuracies and its dependency on scheduled bus departure times.

Ang Bock Leng


Alfrescian (Inf)

Longer peak-hour commutes on Circle Line amid platform closures at HarbourFront and Telok Blangah​


Ten out of 26 commuters ST spoke to said they were inconvenienced by the slight delays, and would be 10 to 15 minutes late for work or school. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
Esther Loi

JAN 23, 2024

SINGAPORE – The week was off to a rough start for Ms Nora Ismail – she needed to be in the office by 8.20am to prepare for a meeting, but she was about 15 minutes late.
At 8.10am on the first weekday after service changes on the Circle Line (CCL) kicked in on Jan 20 to accommodate platform closures at Telok Blangah and HarbourFront MRT stations, the 43-year-old legal secretary was still at Labrador Park station facing a seven-minute wait to switch trains to get to HarbourFront.
Ms Nora’s journey from her home in Jurong East to her workplace in HarbourFront used to take around one hour, but will now take about 75 minutes.
One platform each at the two stations will be closed from Jan 20 to May 24. A shuttle train service now runs between HarbourFront and Labrador Park, the stop after Telok Blangah, at 10-minute intervals.
This translates to longer travel times for passengers travelling in both directions.
These changes, announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and rail operator SMRT in October 2023, are to facilitate track works to connect Stage 6 of CCL – comprising three stations between HarbourFront and Marina Bay – to the HarbourFront CCL station, closing the loop for the line.
An average of 43,000 passengers will be affected daily, said LTA and SMRT.

Additionally, CCL trains will turn back towards Marina Bay alternately at Kent Ridge and Labrador Park stations, instead of HarbourFront, to maintain peak-hour intervals at the busy stretch from Kent Ridge to Paya Lebar.
During peak hours, trains running between Kent Ridge and Labrador Park will arrive at five-minute intervals.
Based on The Straits Times’ checks at Labrador Park, Telok Blangah and HarbourFront stations from 7am to 10am on the morning of Jan 22, the peak-hour situation was orderly and calm, with staff on standby to control crowds.

Ten out of 26 travellers ST spoke to said they were inconvenienced by the slight delays, and would be 10 to 15 minutes late for work or school.
Among them was Miss Sin Si En, 24, who was travelling towards HarbourFront to get to her workplace in Potong Pasir via a transfer to the North-East Line.
The quantity surveyor said she would leave her home in Pasir Panjang earlier, before 8am, for the next few months, as she would need to factor in longer wait times – compared with the original train intervals of about three minutes – for the shuttle train service at Labrador Park station.

SMRT staff ushering commuters into the platform for the shuttle train service at Harbourfront station on Jan 22. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
Mr William Leong, 36, was affected as he had to wait for a train transfer at Labrador Park to get to Kent Ridge from Telok Blangah.
The programme manager had seen the notices displayed at the MRT stations about the changes, but did not understand them.
He added that it would be better if LTA highlighted the “key points” for passengers to understand how they will be affected, instead of the large chunks of information now.
However, some passengers were not too affected by the changes.
Mr Ignatius Goh was heading to his workplace in one-north from his home in Telok Blangah.
The 27-year-old data analyst said the extra wait time “was not a big deal” to him, adding that he was willing to leave his home five to 10 minutes early to reach work on time.
Housewife Prague Khandelwal, 31, said it was easy for her to navigate the service adjustments with “lots of people around to help”.
While she did not know how to get to her destination after being ushered off the train at Telok Blangah, the station staff patiently directed her to wait for the train shuttle service bound for HarbourFront, where she could hop on the North-East Line to Little India.

Ms Saroja Sadasivan Pillay, an operations specialist at SMRT, giving directions to passengers at Labrador Park station on Jan 22. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
ST counted nearly 10 SMRT employees each at Labrador Park, Telok Blangah and HarbourFront stations.
Some announced the travel direction of each arriving train using speakers and signs, some addressed passengers’ queries, while others ushered people on and off trains.
Queues were observed for the shuttle train service between Labrador Park and HarbourFront, but there was enough room to allow most passengers to board.

The shuttle bus service, which begins service on Jan 22, serves five stations between Harbourfront to Kent Ridge. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
Additionally, ST observed that the express shuttle bus service between HarbourFront and Kent Ridge had only some passengers, with around five to 20 people boarding each double-decker bus from 8.15am to 8.50am.
These buses, which have been specially catered as an alternative to the CCL, are running at intervals of 10 to 15 minutes during peak hours on weekdays between 6am and 10am, and from 5pm to 9pm.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Shelving of SimplyGo plan exposes LTA’s lack of preparedness: Observers​


Some passengers expressed frustration at the inconvenience they had to bear to update their ez-link cards. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Kok Yufeng and Tan Wei Xuan

JAN 26, 2024

SINGAPORE - The shelving of plans to phase out older adult public transport payment cards was met with relief by public transport users, who said they were glad their concerns were heard.
But some felt the aborted exercise was ultimately redundant, and expressed frustration at the inconvenience they had to bear to update their ez-link cards.
Observers said the shelving of plans to move towards SimplyGo, an account-based ticketing platform, on Jan 22 exposed issues with the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) communication strategy and lack of preparedness.
Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the authorities will spend an extra $40 million to allow commuters to continue using older ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards, which operate on an old card-based ticketing system.
He said LTA will allow those who updated their ez-link cards to SimplyGo between Jan 9 and 22 to exchange them for those that rely on the card-based system for free. This would allow them to view fare information and their card’s balance when they tap out from a bus or MRT stop – something SimplyGo cannot yet do.
Ms Valerie Lim, 25, will be among those making the switch back to a non-SimplyGo card.
The engineering undergraduate updated her ez-link card to be compatible with SimplyGo on Jan 21.

Ms Lim said she prefers to be able to see her card balance at fare gates and bus card readers, so she knows how much she spends.
“The Government should have thought about the public’s opinion before coming up with this type of policy, as they have to understand that some of us prefer to use normal ez-link cards or might not have access to technology,” she added.
Ms Claudine Ho, 51, a medical industry administrator, said it took her husband three tries at three locations before he could update his senior concession card so it could work with SimplyGo.

She added: “If LTA wants to roll out a new system, make sure people on the ground can manage.”
Insurance manager Madeline Tan, 51, uses a SimplyGo card, but said she does not support LTA’s transition plan as she was concerned some people would not know how to use the SimplyGo app to check their card balance.
Mr Daniel Cheng, 30, a food-and-beverage employee, said he switched to SimplyGo and has no plans to go back.
He added: “All I need to do is to check the app for the balance in my card; it is not a big deal to me. I can see why people were upset over the Government making the change compulsory. I am glad they changed it back.”

In response to queries, LTA said it carried out market testing and focus-group discussions with adult commuters and concession card holders before finalising its SimplyGo transition plan.
It said it decided to make all adult commuters switch to SimplyGo only after it found that two in three adult fare transactions were made using the platform.
In 2021, LTA issued account-based transit cards to more than 1,000 concession card holders as part of a trial.
The general feedback was supportive, and LTA said these concession card holders, including persons with disabilities, tertiary students and full-time national servicemen, did not mind that they could not immediately view fare deductions or their card balance.
Parents of students also found the account-based system useful, as it allowed them to top up their children’s cards remotely.
From its engagements, the group with the most concerns was seniors. Hence, LTA said it decided from the get-go that the card-based ticketing system would be extended for all concession card holders so they would not be affected by the broader switch to SimplyGo.

Associate Professor Walter Theseira, head of the urban transportation programme at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said the backlash against SimplyGo was the result of a policy blind spot.
While SimplyGo may be a better system for many, the mistake was to assume that all commuters would like the account-based system, he added.
LTA also did not explain thoroughly why it needed to phase out the card-based ticketing system, he said.
On the extra $40 million that will be spent so commuters may continue using older cards, Prof Theseira said it was an avoidable expense but one worth paying to ensure they do not feel excluded from the public transport system.
He said the authorities must ask themselves if they could have engaged the public better, and if there were more innovative ways to improve payments so people view account-based systems as a genuine upgrade.

Dr Carol Soon, principal research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, whose research interests include digital and public engagement, highlighted several problems with the SimplyGo roll-out.
For one thing, the lack of interoperability between SimplyGo cards and other payment systems, such as those for motoring expenses, spawned expectations of inconvenience.
There also appeared to have been a lack of user-centricity at the product-design stage, and a failure to anticipate how different public segments would react to the roll-out.
“This is not the pandemic when decisions have to be made and implemented with little time. Adequate time would or should have been put aside,” she said.
Transport analyst Terence Fan from the Singapore Management University said it is evident that the logistics of the transition were not thought through.

LTA said it carried out market testing and focus-group discussions with adult commuters and concession card holders before finalising its SimplyGo transition plan. PHOTO: ST FILE
Assistant Professor Fan also noted that this was the second time in recent months that LTA had changed course in response to a public outcry.
The first episode was in November 2023, when it reversed its decision to withdraw bus service 167.
“Singapore’s public transport system as it stands is still world-class, but I think people are going to question the wisdom of LTA’s management going forward,” Prof Fan added.
Looking ahead, he said LTA would eventually have to move to a single ticketing system, but the authority should make tweaks to make the system more palatable.
“If they don’t show the card balance after every trip, can they at least show when your balance is low?” he asked.

MP Saktiandi Supaat, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, previously called for a longer transition and for LTA to review the SimplyGo system so card balances can be displayed.
He told The Straits Times the crux of the matter is the availability of options, noting that there will always be commuters who are not tech-savvy, and it is not easy for them to transition to something new.
Other MPs, including Mr Yip Hon Weng, Mr Christopher de Souza and Mr Lim Biow Chuan, said they have filed parliamentary questions on SimplyGo.
In a Facebook post, Mr Lim said LTA should maintain the card-based ticketing system until it is able to persuade commuters on the benefits of switching to SimplyGo.
“I wasn’t happy at the earlier announcement by LTA,” Mr Lim wrote. “But I am very glad that the Government is receptive to feedback and has acted promptly.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Delayed opening of TEL Stage 5 irks some residents; others resigned to the longer wait​


Bedok South station was meant to open in 2025, a year after the original 2024 deadline, due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Esther Loi and Whitney William

MAR 10, 2024

SINGAPORE – Faced with yet another delay in the opening of two MRT stations on the final stretch of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), residents near the stations expressed disappointment that they would have to wait an additional year for more convenient commutes to the city and other parts of East Coast.
People living and working near the upcoming Bedok South and Sungei Bedok stations on the TEL told The Straits Times they were frustrated with the 2026 opening of the stations. Some of them are now restricted to a few bus services, and the nearest MRT station is up to 20 minutes away on foot.
Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said on March 5, during a debate on the Ministry of Transport’s budget, that the fifth and final stage of the TEL – comprising the two stations – will open in 2026.
Work on the TEL’s eastern stretch began in 2016.
Also pushed back to 2026 is a 2.2km Downtown Line (DTL) extension linking the existing Expo station to Xilin and then Sungei Bedok, which will be an interchange stop for the TEL and DTL. The nearby East Coast Integrated Depot for trains and buses will also be ready only in 2026.
TEL Stage 5 and the depot were meant to open in 2025, a year after the original 2024 deadline, due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The DTL extension was also due to be ready by 2025.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had attributed the latest delays to construction challenges of tunnelling near existing critical infrastructure. It did not specify what these were.
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Many of the 16 residents, students and workers ST interviewed near the future Bedok South and Sungei Bedok stations voiced dissatisfaction with the delay.

Bedok South​


People living and working near the upcoming Bedok South (above) and Sungei Bedok stations on the TEL told ST that they were frustrated with the longer wait. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Surrounded by Bedok South Horizon, a Housing Board Build-To-Order (BTO) project, and the Siglap Community Club, Bedok South station is in a residential estate with Temasek Primary and Secondary schools within walking distance.
Residents of Bedok South Horizon said they were disappointed with the delay as ease of access to the TEL was one of the key reasons for their flat purchases.

For assistant administrative executive Nicole Koh, 32, the delay means she has no choice but to stick to a one-hour bus ride home from her Kaki Bukit workplace for the next two years, compared with a shorter MRT journey via the DTL and TEL.
Mrs Koh said commuting on the MRT with her three young children – aged three, five and seven – would be safer than travelling by bus, thanks to the absence of roadside dangers on the MRT network.
Legal executive Matthew Tan, 29, said the series of delays is “a bit of a letdown”. He moved to Bedok South Horizon with his wife in 2021, and they were banking on quick access to the MRT even before they bought their home.
Retired sales executive Simon Seah, 72, said it would be good if the stations could open sooner as he was looking forward to the ultimate convenience of travelling from the east to the north.
As a frequent visitor to Johor Bahru, he welcomes an easier commute to Woodlands via the TEL as it would cut his travelling time significantly.

Sungei Bedok​


The upcoming Sungei Bedok TEL station is located near the Bedok Food Centre and Bedok Camp. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
About 1km away sits the future Sungei Bedok station. It is located near the Bedok Food Centre and military training facility Bedok Camp in a precinct with private housing developments.
Residents there said it is a long-awaited travel alternative to the few bus services in the area that arrive every 15 minutes or so during off-peak periods.
Mr Mohamed Murset, 64, a hawker at Bedok Food Centre who lives in Marine Parade, said he was upset and shocked that the Sungei Bedok station will be ready only in 2026.
Marine Parade station, which opens on June 23 along with six others as part of TEL Stage 4, is five stops from Sungei Bedok.
With the TEL, the commute to his stall will be halved to about 20 minutes, compared with his present journey of about 45 minutes, including a bus transfer.
Mr Mohamed added that the food centre is inaccessible at present, with most patrons driving in, as it is “too troublesome” to make bus transfers to get there for just a meal. After the new station is completed, he expects higher foot traffic as it will be more convenient for people to travel there.
New and hidden food gems along 11 new Thomson-East Coast Line stations
TEL Stage 4 stations handed over to SMRT for final tests
Legal consultant Hannah Choo, 39, said she felt “very miserable” about the delay, as the Sungei Bedok area is served by only three bus services.
Right now, going from her home in Eastwood Road to the nearest MRT station, Tanah Merah on the East-West Line, is troublesome as it involves a bus ride, and a long wait for the bus at times, she said.
Business owner Sam Teo, 65, said he is disappointed that the station would not be ready any time soon, but said he “does not have much of a say” if the delay is meant to ensure the safety of construction work.
He said he is ready to give his car up once the train station is completed, and he can visit his sons living in Tampines via the DTL and Katong via the TEL more conveniently.
Domestic helper Marites Pacis, 51, who lives in Eastwood, said she is “happy to just wait” as the completion of the stations will lead to a “good outcome in the end”.



The new Xilin TEL station is located within an industrial estate. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Over in Xilin Avenue, the Xilin station on the DTL extension is surrounded mostly by industrial buildings, and workers are set to form the bulk of those who would benefit from its opening.
Most of the eight people ST spoke to were, however, unaware of the upcoming station, but they noted that the area is generally inaccessible by public transport.
Customer service executive Siti Farhana, 27, said the waiting time for the only bus service is at least 10 minutes. Often, the bus is also full during peak hours, forcing her to wait an extra 10 minutes for the next one.
She said the upcoming Xilin station will be a good alternative as she can take a train to work from Bedok Reservoir station on the DTL, which is near her home.
On top of that, the connection to the TEL via Sungei Bedok will allow her to visit her in-laws in Woodlands.

TEL Stage 4​

Meanwhile, residents living near TEL Stage 4 welcome the opening of the seven stations between Tanjong Rhu and Bayshore on June 23.
Many of the 15 residents ST spoke to were excited about using the new stations near their homes.
Housewife Dawn Tay, 43, said she will be using the TEL often to take her children between her home near Katong Park station and their school, CHIJ (Katong) Primary, near Marine Terrace station, which is three stops away.
The MRT, she added, will be a good alternative to the bus on rainy days.
Regional entertainment head Sandeep Hardasmalani, 48, lives one minute from Bayshore station on foot and looks forward to taking the train to Marine Parade, which he frequents for meals and to run errands.
Information technology consultant Audrey Chua, 52, said she will use the TEL only if she is travelling to Woodlands to head to Johor Bahru. She said the bus is still more convenient for daily commuting, since Siglap station is “quite a walk away” from the residential area where she lives.
With the opening of TEL Stage 4, about 235,000 households will be within a 10-minute walk of a TEL station, LTA had said.
Its opening will take Singapore’s rail network to more than 210km. The authorities intend to expand it to about 360km by the 2030s, putting eight in 10 households within a 10-minute walk of a train station.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Overcharged by SimplyGo when different devices are used on each leg​

FEB 15, 2024

I want to highlight an issue that may not be commonly known or well appreciated among SimplyGo users, which underscores the need to improve the final product before it is made the de facto mode of public transport payment for everyone.
With the recent increased public interest in SimplyGo, I downloaded the SimplyGo app in January to start monitoring the breakdown of my travel expenses. I am thankful that I did, but for all the wrong reasons.
On reviewing the fare expenses from Jan 20 to Feb 8, I discovered that there were 19 instances where SimplyGo had overcharged me on my credit card, essentially doubling or even tripling the maximum fare charged to me, depending on how many modes of transport – bus and MRT – I had used and completely ignoring the distance-based fare principle.
This was alarming, considering that I have been using linked credit card payments to pay for public transport fares for years.
The issue surfaces within a given trip when a different mobile device is used to pay for a fare, regardless of whether the device is linked to the same credit card or not.
So while the physical credit card or a linked iPhone or Apple Watch may all be valid payment modes, alternating between any of these modes within a single trip would result in separate charges for each leg of the trip.
As the fare reader is unable to determine the end-to-end origin and destination, each leg is charged the maximum charge. My only recourse is to write in to request reimbursement for those limited transactions I am able to access via the app.

This issue may also be impacting many others.
SimplyGo needs to address this, as most commuters may assume that the mode of payment device should not impact the final fare as long as it is linked to the same payment mode, that is, the same credit card.
Commuters should be either explicitly informed about this, or the device payment should be made seamless. Otherwise, this “bug” in overcharging could be inflating costs for commuters.

Ernest Wee Wen Liang


Alfrescian (Inf)

S'pore woman, 89, falls on public bus & suffers head injury as driver moved off before she sat down​

The bus company apologised over the matter and said the driver has been disciplined.
Daniel Seow
January 17, 2024


An 89-year-old woman taking a public bus in Bukit Batok ended up in hospital as the driver moved off before she was seated.
Previously mobile and independent, the senior, surnamed Ho, is now in a wheelchair with a head injury from the fall.

In response to Mothership's enquiries, the bus company, Tower Transit, apologised for the incident and said they have since disciplined the bus captain involved.

The accident​

The woman's granddaughter, Geraldine Toh, told Mothership that the accident happened on the morning of Jan. 6.
Ho, who stays in Bukit Batok with Toh's uncle and aunt, was heading to Beauty World with Toh's aunt to run some errands.


A picture of Ho before the injury. Image courtesy of Toh.

At around 10:45am, the pair boarded bus 173 at the bus stop opposite the Hillbrooks condominium.
Ho boarded first.
However, as she was walking over to find a seat, the driver accelerated.
Ho was holding on to a hand rail at the time, but the movement of the bus caused her to lose her grip.
"My aunty couldn't even catch her in time," Toh said.
Ho fell on her back, with her head, shoulder and hip hitting the ground.
Her walking stick also broke in the fall.

Hospitalised for 6 days​

Toh's aunt said that following the accident, the driver didn't apologise to them, or leave his seat to offer assistance.
She only remembers that he asked if there was a need to call an ambulance.
This angered Toh's aunt, who scolded him for driving off hastily.
The pair were subsequently brought in an ambulance to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
Ho was diagnosed with a head injury from the fall and hospitalised for six days.
Toh acknowledged that bus drivers may feel an urgency to abide by their schedule, but said they should make it a point to ensure elderly passengers are seated before driving off.
"It's not like the old lady is going to take another 10 minutes to [find her seat], right? It's just another minute, so what difference is that going to make?" she said.
Toh also pointed out that Singapore has an ageing population, and not all seniors have children or grandchildren to accompany them on public transport.

Loss of mobility​

Toh said she is thankful that the fall didn't lead to complications such as fractures or blood clots.
However, Ho is still in pain from the accident.
She now relies on a wheelchair to get around, and has to attend weekly physiotherapy sessions until she recovers her strength.
Toh said it was frustrating to see her usually active grandmother lose her mobility so suddenly.
Prior to the accident, Ho was able to cook for the household, take bus rides by herself and even travel on family holidays.

Image courtesy of Toh.

Now, she is learning to walk again and needs assistance with daily living activities such as showering and using the toilet.
Despite the accident, Toh said her grandmother remains jovial.
In hospital, when she asked Ho about the fall, the latter laughed it off.

Bus captain's actions "falls short of our standards": Tower Transit​

In a statement on Jan. 16, a Tower Transit spokesperson apologised over the matter, and clarified that it was a "failure" on the part of the bus captain.
“We’re really sorry that Mdm Ho was injured on our bus. Our bus captain failed to wait till she was seated before moving off, causing her to lose her balance and fall. This is not in line with our training and falls short of our standards," the spokesperson said.
The company has since disciplined the bus captain involved.
Tower Transit has also put out a reminder for all staff to ensure vulnerable passengers, including seniors, people with disabilities and pregnant women, are seated or secure before moving off.
"At Mdm Ho’s age, any fall can cause significant injuries. We are glad this was not the case, and we are in touch with her family to assist with her medical claims and offer our support," the spokesperson added.
"We wish her a speedy recovery and sincerely hope that she will feel well enough to take the bus again soon.”

Hopes bus companies can also incentivise drivers​

The company has also reached out to Toh to apologise.
They also offered her a hamper and are liaising with her on the insurance claims, she said.
While glad to have some closure to the matter, Toh hopes the driver will not be fired.
Rather, she hopes that bus companies could consider incentivising good service from drivers instead.
"It would be good if they implemented some constructive measures where drivers are recognised, such as monetary bonus or extra days off for good ratings from passengers," she suggested.


Alfrescian (Inf)

SimplyGo app shows Tower Transit bus travelled 35.4km in 16 minutes, that's 132.75kmh -- but how?​

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Ong Su Mann

Posted on 26 January 2024

Was it the fault of the GPS on the bus?
A bus commuter was surprised to discover that he was overcharged for a trip when SimplyGo recorded the wrong bus stop where he boarded.
Stomper G used his SimplyGo-connected Mastercard to take Tower Transit bus service 857 from Yio Chu Kang Road to Yishun Avenue 2 on Jan 19.
The problem was the SimplyGo system wrongly recorded the bus stop as "Opp ST Electronics" instead of "ST Electronics", which was on the other side of the road indicating that the bus going in the opposite direction.
This resulted in the wrong distance recorded.
According to the SimplyGo app, the bus travelled 35.4km from 6.09pm to 6.25pm.
"How did the bus even travel 35.4km in 16 minutes?" asked the Stomper. "That would mean travelling at 132.75kmh."
The legal speed limit for buses in Singapore is 60kmh.
As a result of the wrong distance recorded, the Stomper was charged $2.32. The correct charge is $1.40 for the journey, which should be only 5.4km.

"So many people have boarded the bus at the same stop as me," said the Stomper. "They wouldn’t have realised it if they used SimplyGo as there was no way to see the fare deduction when you can’t even see the values on the screen.
"I was able to verify the amount deducted only after I got off as the SimplyGo app would usually have a delay when sending the notification of the trip."
The Stomper called Tower Transit but was told to contact Transit Link as it was a fare issue. Transit Link in turn told him to wait a few days for the outcome.
In response to a Stomp query, a Transit Link spokesperson said that the trip information reflected on the SimplyGo app is extracted from a backend system which captured and downloaded the data from the bus console.
"Based on our checks, the commuter had filed a claim on the disputed trip on Jan 22," said the spokesperson.
"He had subsequently called our hotline to enquire when he would be updated on the claim outcome. He had been informed that he would be notified via the SimplyGo app between three to five working days, which he had acknowledged."
Stomp has contacted Tower Transit for more info.
"I believe many who boarded the bus would have been affected as well," said the Stomper. "So I'm hoping to shed some light so they can check if they have been wrongly charged too."
On Jan 26, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat acknowledged the authorities made a “judgment error” in deciding to phase out older public transport payment cards for adults, and underestimated how commuters wanted to continue seeing fare information and card balances.

The Land Transport Authority had announced on Jan 9 that it would retire the older card-based ticketing system – which ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards run on – by June 1. These cards were to be replaced by SimplyGo, an account-based system that processes fare payments at the back end, unlike the older system of storing transaction data on cards.
But the announcement was met with an outcry from passengers, who expressed frustration about their inability to see fare deductions and card balances when tapping out. Some who tried upgrading their ez-link cards on Jan 10 also faced delays due to a surge in transaction volume, reported The Straits Times.
On Jan 22, Mr Chee said the Government will spend an additional $40 million to extend the lifespan of the card-based ticketing system and allow passengers to continue using the older payment cards.