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Minister Chee Hong Tat and SMS Baey yet to respond to public concerns on SimplyGo

Strangely enough, neither Minister Chee nor Mr Baey have addressed the numerous public questions about the inconvenience of transitioning to SimplyGo. Instead, they have been active on their social media platforms, seemingly unconcerned about the issue.

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Since the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore declared on  9 January about the transitions to SimplyGo EZ-Link and contactless payments, phasing out older payment methods for public transport, persistent discontent has arisen among commuters.

Many commuters have expressed dissatisfaction with the changes, questioning the necessity of the transition.

Some have raised concerns about the inconvenience of being unable to view fare information at station gates and bus readers due to the processing method of these transactions.

However, it is noteworthy that, despite the ongoing discontent within the community two weeks after the LTA’s announcement, it appears that newly appointed Transport Minister, Chee Hong Tat has yet to respond to the recent SimplyGo saga.

Additionally, Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Transport, who has actively promoted the usage of SimplyGo on social media, has yet to provide any updates in response to numerous public questions about SimplyGo.

Mr Chee, who served as the Acting Transport Minister during the investigation of former Minister Iswaran by CPIB since July 2023, was officially appointed as the new Minister for Transport last Thursday (18 January) following Iswaran’s resignation from Parliament and the People’s Action Party (PAP) after facing 27 charges.

Meanwhile, Mr Baey once stated that SimplyGo was not intended to replace existing payment methods for public transport.

As reported by the Straits Times, on 4 April 2019, Mr Baey, during the launch of SimplyGo at Downtown MRT Station, emphasized the LTA’s commitment to ensuring a hassle-free and convenient experience for commuters.

He stated, “Essentially, we want to make the experience of commuters as hassle-free and convenient as possible,” highlighting that the introduction of SimplyGo aligns with the Republic’s Smart Nation and cashless goals.

He explained that SimplyGo aims to provide commuters with a choice of payment modes, in line with the government’s efforts to enhance the overall commuting experience and promote cashless transactions.

His remark five years ago appears to be somewhat contradictory to the LTA’s recent decision to transition public transport payment methods to SimplyGo.

Strangely, both Minister Chee and Mr Baey have yet to address multiple questions raised by the public regarding the inconvenience of the transition to SimplyGo.

Commuters voice concern over shortcomings in SimplyGo

Two weeks ago, LTA announced that effective from 1 June 2024, older EZ-Link cards without the SimplyGo logo and Nets FlashPay cards will no longer be accepted as valid payment methods.

LTA attributes this decision to the increasing popularity of SimplyGo systems.

“With the growing adoption of SimplyGo payment methods, and the legacy card-based ticketing system for adult commuters nearing the end of its operational lifespan, we are therefore transitioning all adult commuters to the SimplyGo platform by 1 June 2024,” LTA said.

Observing the online community, it is evident that numerous concerns have been raised about the significant shortcomings in SimplyGo, such as its inability to provide transaction details to commuters on buses or the MRT.

The online community questions why the previous system offered this feature and expresses concerns about LTA’s lack of initiatives to address and improve the situation before removing the existing system.

Roger Ng, an Investor Relations (IR) and Communications specialist with nearly two decades of experience has raised concerns about LTA’s SimplyGo announcement, calling it a potential “biggest PR disaster.”

In a LinkedIn post, he emphasized that the transition to SimplyGo cards lacks crucial features like displaying fare and balance at the gate, reflecting a disregard for commuters’ needs in the tech rollout.

While it may seem to be such a small issue on the surface, Mr Ng pointed out that it is a reflection of how authorities “pay so little attention to what commuters actually want or need when rolling out new tech.”

Mr Ng pointed out that the focus should be on customer experience rather than ease of backend management.

Last Friday, responding to media queries, LTA clarified that tapping a SimplyGo EZ-Link card would prompt fare gates and bus readers to take “a few seconds” to retrieve and display the card balance and deduction information from the backend system.

“While this is technically possible, it will slow down the entry and exit for commuters,” said LTA.

“Given the large numbers of commuters who are taking MRT and buses, this will lead to longer queues which is not desirable.”

A notable concern voiced by many is the absence of a card balance display at MRT fare gates or bus card readers under the SimplyGo system.

Instead, the screen only shows “SimplyGo,” requiring users to check their card balance through ticketing machines or the SimplyGo app.

LTA defended this approach, stating that the SimplyGo app was designed to provide comprehensive trip details and alerts on fares through push notifications.

Users who opt not to use the app can access trip details and card balance information at ticketing machines in train stations and bus interchanges.

LTA states renewing the existing CBT System would be ‘very costly’

Acknowledging the success of the existing Card-Based Ticketing (CBT) system, LTA highlighted that it is approaching the end of its operational lifespan.

LTA added that two in three adult commuters have adopted SimplyGo since December 2023.

“Instead of renewing the CBT system and continuing to run two systems which is very costly, we have decided to continue only with the SimplyGo system for adult commuters from 1 June 2024.”

Recognizing the adjustment period required for those yet to switch to SimplyGo, LTA assured commuters that the transition was announced several months in advance and that service ambassadors would be deployed at train stations and bus interchanges to assist them.

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CHT , while at the subject of spending 40 Million to keep the better system can you also allow the system to go negative and let me go thru the fare gates like the good old days and just deduct the excess used when I top up. Very irritating when I only need 94 cents to go home and got to a dollar and 5 cents balance and cannot get thru the fare gates because of low value.

I scanned NETS Flashpay it take less than second to show fare trip and balance at MRT gate. I can use Flashpay in retail and F&B, I can top up using my phone’s NFC.

So what’s the problem with LTA to kill better system for a problematic and half pass six SimplyGo?

Just bought a new ezlink card for $5/- with $5/- stored value from 7/11 this morning.

There was NO SIMPLY-GO?

Why pappies MADE BROKEN PROMISES? Vote Carefully! ESP Shame!

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