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Is there a need to retaining cash-accepting ticketing machine at Singapore’s train stations?

Public transport users in Singapore expressed frustration over the Land Transport Authority’s decision to replace general ticketing machines with cashless options, leading to longer wait times and inconvenience.

Users shared concerns about limited cashless machines, impacting various groups including tourists and seniors. The move to cashless was announced in 2017 as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.



SINGAPORE: Public transportation users turned to the internet to express their frustration towards the Land Transport Authority (LTA) due to the replacement of general ticketing machines with cashless alternatives, causing longer wait times for commuters and increased inconvenience.

One Redditor, under the username Que57ery, posted a photo depicting a lengthy queue forming in front of a cash-accepting ticketing machine.

In the post, the user questioned LTA’s decision to replace the previous General Ticketing Machines with cashless alternatives, particularly highlighting the concern that only one or two machines accepting cash were allocated per station.

The user highlighted that this limited availability has resulted in significant queues at each station, causing inconvenience for commuters.

Redditors disagree with the way the cashless machines are being implemented

Commenting on the post, the majority of the Redditors disagree with the way the cashless machines are being implemented.

Several Redditors shared personal anecdotes detailing the challenges they encountered while using these machines. Others offered advice on obtaining bank cards for children as young as 12, enabling them to utilize cashless options and circumvent long queues.

In the comments section, a Redditor aptly pointed out that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been discussing the transition to a cashless system for years.

People have consistently voiced concerns about the potential problems this change could pose for various groups such as young students, domestic helpers, the elderly, and tourists.

LTA’s plan to go fully cashless

Indeed, the move to go fully cashless was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and its subsidiary TransitLink in August 2017, in line with Singapore’s Smart Nation push.

Progressing further, reports indicated that by the year 2020, all ticketing machines stationed within MRT facilities would exclusively cater to cashless top-ups, encompassing options like Nets, debit cards, and credit cards.

As of 2020, the utilization of standard tickets for payment accounted for less than one in every 1,000 journeys. The subsequent year saw the LTA make an announcement signaling the gradual discontinuation of standard tickets due to their dwindling usage.

In a bid to facilitate this transition, the LTA actively encouraged senior citizens, individuals with limited income, and migrant workers to transition from standard tickets to either stored-value cards or innovative account-based ticketing alternatives.

Redditors examine cash machine phase-out as a “business decision”

A Reddit user speculated that the replacement of traditional cash machines may have been motivated by business considerations.

He noted that managing cash involves the daily collection, hiring third-party security personnel for counting and collection, and additional security and maintenance costs due to the manual handling of bills and coins.

One user elaborated, pointing out the security concerns and the increased maintenance requirements, including camera surveillance and upkeep due to the manual input of currency.

Go cashless to reduce cost, some Redditors suggest

Redditor “crnbery” added a hopeful perspective, suggesting that the transition could ultimately lead to reduced costs. The user expressed the hope that any savings could be passed on to commuters, potentially resulting in fewer fare increases.

Another insightful comment highlighted the efficiency of cashless machines in reducing queues.

Redditors share their inconvenience

Nevertheless, within the thread, a series of comments emerged from individuals identifying themselves as visitors to Singapore. These comments detailed the frustrating experiences they encountered while utilizing the aforementioned machines.

Several pointed out instances of their visa cards from their respective countries being rejected, and some users voiced apprehension about potential inconveniences that might arise for specific demographics if these services were to transition completely to a cashless model.

A non-permanent resident, named jodonoghue, who frequently visits Singapore to see family, expressed disappointment over the restriction that LTA machines only accept Singapore-issued cards.

He deemed this practice “insane,” especially considering the high costs associated with withdrawing cash from ATMs compared to other spending methods.

Echoing this sentiment, another user wondered about the challenges tourists face when they’re unable to use foreign cards or cash. They questioned whether these upgrades prioritize showiness over practical functionality.

Tourist’s exasperating encounter spurs long queue

Recounting a personal ordeal, another user recounted an exasperating experience with the top-up machines.

As a tourist in Singapore, he needed to top up multiple EZ link cards with cash, only to face rejections from the machine for some notes. The user empathetically described a situation where a line of 15 people formed behind them, highlighting the inconvenience caused.

“I thought it was weird only having one machine for cash, and I felt confident using the machine but I see this post and think of some poor old fella trying to work out the machine rejecting his cash.”

“My experience should be told to someone that made the decision to reduce the machines. Anyways beautiful city have a good day guys”.

Redditors criticise the Singapore government for “overzealous to go cashless”

Expressing dissent, another Redditor, likely a Singaporean, candidly shared their perspective on the Singaporean government’s fervent pursuit of a cashless and digitalized society.

The user cautioned that this zealous approach could inadvertently marginalize segments of the population with limited digital literacy or access, and may also impede tourists’ experiences.

While one user suggested that tourists could potentially employ their own Visa or Mastercard from their respective countries, another user disclosed their personal experience.

The user said both his Australian cards were rejected by the machine. Upon seeking assistance at an MRT station, he was informed that the machines do not accept foreign cards, leaving tourists reliant on cash.

Users additionally highlighted the concern that not all visitors’ cards might be compatible with the city-state’s MRT ticketing machines.

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