Connect with us

Featured

Will EZ-Link cards still be phased out despite a S$40 million expenditure?

After reversing the EZ-Link phase-out and proposing a S$40 million investment to maintain it as a payment mode, questions emerge: Is phasing out necessary, or was LTA pushing a shift to SimplyGo?

Published

on

In a recent turn of events, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat announced an embarrassing U-turn in the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) plan to transition from the EZ-Link card system to the SimplyGo platform, at least for 2024.

This decision, which reverses the phase-out of the existing EZ-Link card in Singapore’s public transport payment system, initially planned for June this year, emerged amidst public backlash and followed a prolonged silence from the transport minister and civil servants, perhaps in hopes that the public backlash would cool down.

The abrupt announcement to phase out the EZ-Link cards on 9 January, a system deeply ingrained in Singapore’s public transport fabric for over two decades, was met with considerable resistance from the general public.

This raises the question: Was the move to remove the EZ-Link cards necessary in the first place, given how swiftly LTA could reverse its decision?

In a Facebook post on Monday (22 Jan), Chee announced that the government will spend S$40 million (US$29.8 million) to extend the use of EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay cards for adult commuters, and not to “sunset” the system in 2024 as originally planned.

According to LTA, responding to media queries, the figure is for hardware replacements and systems maintenance. But this raises the question: Why is that so? Rather than saying S$40 million is spent to enable the use of existing cards, should it not be more logical to assume that funds have been allocated to transition the system to one that is SimplyGo-centric?

Alternatively, is the figure a sum quoted by the contracted company to reintegrate the existing EZ-Link into the new system set for June, as LTA had announced that the EZ-Link cards would be phased out and rendered unusable?

If this is the case, it is baffling why LTA opted for a new system that does not accommodate old cards, choosing instead to completely delink them from the system, even though they have functioned well since its introduction in 2002.

Without detailed explanations, Chee’s announcements leave more room for speculation and concern than they provide clarity.

We must also question Chee regarding whether the S$40 million is a one-off expenditure or merely for the transitional period of 2024, as he did not explicitly state that the cards would not be phased out after 2024. It’s important to approach Chee’s statements with caution, especially given his history of being called out for questionable numbers and logic when debating policies in Parliament.

But if an additional S$40 million is to be spent to cater for the existing EZ-Link cards to be used together with SimplyGo, is there a need to later phase out the cards, and shouldn’t this have been the approach LTA took from the beginning, instead of phasing out the EZ-Link cards outright?

In his Facebook post, Chee also addressed concerns raised by commuters about SimplyGo, including that they would no longer be able to see their stored-value card balance and fare deduction at MRT fare gates and bus card-readers.

He also acknowledged the delays commuters faced when trying to upgrade their current EZ-Link cards to SimplyGo-compatible cards over the past two weeks. “I apologize on behalf of MOT and LTA for the delays commuters experienced when they tried to convert their existing EZ-Link cards,” Chee said. “This could have been avoided with better preparation.”

He added that LTA has worked to address this issue and has updated the SimplyGo app and sped up the card conversion process.

LTA said adult commuters who have bought SimplyGo EZ-Link cards or converted their EZ-Link cards to SimplyGo since 9 January can exchange their cards for the old-style cards free of charge if they wish to do so. Concession cardholders who obtained a SimplyGo-compatible card or converted their cards to SimplyGo on or before Monday will also have the option to exchange their card for their original concession card free of charge if they do not wish to keep using their SimplyGo cards.

“We seek commuters’ understanding that we require some time to prepare our operations for the card exchange, to minimize inconvenience to commuters,” LTA said.

This acknowledgement by Chee and LTA suggests that LTA was pushing a decision with ramifications for the public that it could not handle or was unprepared for. Some netizens also pointed out that LTA failed to consider the amount of money involved in refunding card owners, given many users have deposited significant amounts into their EZ-Link cards for easy access over a long period, which might explain why the initial plans for the refunding were scrapped suddenly.

While some may view the reversal on the EZ-Link card phase-out as evidence of the government’s willingness to listen to public opinion, it should also be seen as opening Pandora’s box of questions about financial prudence, technological foresight, lack of consultation, and policy transparency by the People’s Action Party government.

LTA claimed to have conducted market testing and focus group sessions with adult commuters and concession cardholders before finalizing the SimplyGo transition plan. However, considering the public outcry that led to the U-turn, several scenarios emerge: perhaps the market testing and focus groups did not occur, the groups might have consisted of individuals who readily agreed with government proposals, or LTA possibly ignored the results and proceeded with their decision to phase out the cards, compelling everyone to switch to SimplyGo.

Given the lack of government transparency and the absence of a Freedom of Information Act, more in-depth discussions and scrutiny are needed in Parliament regarding the abrupt phasing out of the EZ-Link card and the rationale behind the S$40 million expenditure.

Parliamentarians must ask hard questions: Why can’t the new system integrate old and new systems? Is there a need to phase out EZ-Link cards as LTA had earlier announced, or is LTA trying to muscle its way through by forcing everyone to accept its decision, underestimating the response from the general public?

This is not the first time, at least in recent times, that LTA has had to reverse its decision. Take bus service 167, for example. LTA initially planned to discontinue Service 167 but reversed its decision following strong opposition from affected commuters and residents, marking a remarkable turnaround within a fortnight.

The Singaporean public deserves a thorough explanation and reassurance that their interests are being thoughtfully considered in the implementation of nationwide policies and not ad-hoc decisions, with the expectation that the population will just accept whatever the government decides.

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
36 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
36 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Looks like this govt Simply got to Gooooooooooooooooooooo……………

If the $40 million to to retain the existing system and running in tandem with the implementation of Simply-Go sans all the hiccups and frustrations to date, perhaps the [ublic will be less infuriated. Not as a corrective measure. Mind you $40 million is no “peanut” sum. This reaffirms the fact that our govt is becoming impervious to cost regardless. Who is the vendor asking for this sum? Has it been duly deliberated and justified? Have we become the goose that lays golden eggs????

Hello, the $40 million is well spent. It’s to advance the technology and make our lives better. We must remember that it’s the oppie politicians who, for political reasons, influence the people to go against the government! So, the saboteurs are really the oppie politicians, especially that PSP Leong Chee Wai!! Blame oppies!!

Oh no S$40 million investment by our government, they are going to think of ways to get back this amount again. Maybe higher gst, property taxes, income taxes, and, erp ……. die lah like that.

Why because Singapore is Rich Ok.

Is LTA raiding our Reserves? $40 million is no small sum.

Don’t expect much from a organisation that run by cockheads (LTA “Lan Thau Authority” )

I believe that SimplyGo will be retained since it is already in use and to quote the LTA “that two in three adult commuters have adopted SimplyGo since December 2023”. What this means is that SimplyGo will be modified to include the missing features that should have been included in the first instance. Of course it will mean more will be spent to do a true upgrade. How much will be spent is something the LTA or Minister Chee has to share. Do note that this expense is separate from the $40 mil “to extend the use of the current… Read more »

This simplyGo saga could be only a ploy to test water before GE….lol. Why is this so? Because in history so far, no minister apologises so promptly after a hiccup, but he will try to find many excuses to reason his way out in the parliament….lol.
Now it showed that many Singaporeans, old and young, are fed up with the current policies and government.
LHL may think of another excuse to lead his current team for another 4-year term, benching LW. HSK can only pat on LW’s shoulder and shakes his head.

In fact no body ask CHT to apologise. I got no clue why he did so. Remember the spin queen Jo. We ask for him to resign which he should.

VTO. VTO.

Also concerned all the earlier publicity costs of transitioning to Simply Go now reversed, Lawrence, can you claw back that amount give another round of GST vouchers or cash top for 9 % GST increase to the citizens for all the trauma suffered.

“The Singaporean public DOES NOT deserves a thorough explanation and reassurance that their interests are being thoughtfully considered ……. will just HAVE TO accept whatever the government decides.|” BECAUSE WE ARE IN CHARGE– remember LKY. Hence we do suka suka do what we want.

Last edited 1 month ago by ganeshshk

Probably … YESSS
That taxpayers’ SGD 40,000,000.00 is for CHT’s “sorry”.
A very, probably world’s most expensive “sorry” !!!

Poor ppl problem. Rich Elites don’t bother about what EZ card or SimplyGo.
They use Mercs,BM, Volvo ,Audi etc.
So.whatever they shaft down your peasants throat , you poor fxxks just have to accept lah!
Use your vote to threaten?
Go loh ,see got any effect?😆😆😆😂🤣🤣

Seriously look at CHT face, so obvious he is just reading out whatever script that he is told to read – no brain cells involved. Yesterday say phase out old EZ cards, today say can keep but pay 40m. Tomorrow how – must phase out AND must pay additional 100m, hor? Their million$ salary so easy to earn, hor.

Dun blame the monkeys, blame the Kayu One who surrounds himself with such monkeys.

Recall also the U-turn on allowing bicycles and PMDs on existing pedestrian pathways. Totally insane decision based on wrong wish-to-have’s (to meet Ownself’s KPIs?), rather than physical facts and proper study. In the end, must use $7m of public funds to buy back the “illegal” PMDs which they approved in the first place. Kaki mistake, just use public money to save their own backsides, hor.

Recall the YOG can be overspent by 280m – got governance, hor? Kaki-lang says need more money, the monkeys will make the excuses for them to have face.

Get this $40m from chee hong tart and all lta staff to maintain the old ticketing system for another 10 more years…lol.
Dont ever think of raising public transport fares again this year.
“Don’t dream, it’s over” by crowded house.

‘Simply go’
‘Just do it’

Not this time!

Raise gst, then anyhow spend!!!

LTA owns SimplyGo, so it is a no-brainer they want to monopolise the profits and the ridership data. This is a classic example of conflict of interest, where the authority is regulating and, yet desperately wanting it’s inferior product to succeed, issues an imperial edict to banish the competition. But this government will never understand the concept of conflict of interest, given the numerous similar scandals they have been lurching from week after week. Only when the electorate tells them that enough is enough, will they have time in opposition to reflect on the concept of conflict of interest. So… Read more »

I applaud CHT in doing a U-turn on the SimplyGo card. However please tell us more on the $40m expenditure and is the recovery from an increase in fares? This will be unfair if the $40m was incurred because of poor market research and Public feedback before implementation.

The trust meter shows people trust in PAP Administration ethics should be at the bottom of the deepest pit – Keppel Bribery Corruption, no senior pple jailed or indicted, Ridout BW Bungalows not convincing they rent at market rates, scams stories from Monster Prostitute Jo Teo resembles a con job. All these CANNOT bait voters to accept PAP is pure and clean.

The ruthless Singapore PAP government Ministers want the SimplyGo to be implemented means they want SimplyGo to be implemented and they treated Singaporeans as dogs, dogs have to obey owner command and cannot argue with it.The Singapore PAP government Ministers the SimplyGo have to be use for travel MRT and buses and should not use to buy items from convenience store.

Earning $500,000.00 in the private sector is DEEMED mediocre by Goh. And probably he also lied earning $1,000,000.00 is capable than mediocre BUT proven NOT so in many bloody cases with this FRAUDULENT PAP.

Hot from the oven the pros Jo Teo went to the extreme of extremes to DISRESPECT the people of Singaporeans. Utter egregious.

Quoting the regime’s favourite “straw man” for all occasions, … that focus groups, adult commuters and concession cardholders were involved in market testing before “going to launch” !!! What they omitted was, … that every red dotter with a brain cell knows only too damn well, that all of the above who were party to the “testing” comprised of, … entirely yes men and women !!! And of course, … the testing, launching and now, the u~turn with 40 smackeroos budgeted is complete with abject opacity on how the amount has come to be, where it’s come from, where will… Read more »

Perhaps MOT and LTA were quoted a cost of about $40million by the vendor of the SimplyGo system that facilitated the integration of the old system and the new system. Having done their self fulfilling surveys and customers studies from the target group, they believed they could save $40m by offering SimplyGo minus the balance reflection feature and Singaporeans will SimplyAccept. As they say, the rest is history. With so many negative issues affecting the ruling elites, perhaps they could not afford to risk it especially if they have plans to call a GE after the budget on 16Feb. Instead… Read more »

Correction … Should be S I M ply Go apps.
Neutral is Out. Maybe should have Singapore oso change to Simgapore next time … Who knows. This happens when you always have to double guess the authority mindset since they cannot articulate it. No?!?

Who knows? They are Not transparent to put out what this $40 million is on. The breakdown for expenditure for a Developed System … So presumably to develop the SinplyGo apps since so “backdated” for the Future … One can only guess what is on their mind since they cannot articulate their Vision ……..

Trending

Discover more from Gutzy Asia

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading