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Chee Hong Tat apologizes for LTA’s underestimation of commuters’ preference

Singapore’s Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat apologizes for phasing out traditional payment cards, admitting LTA’s oversight in underestimating commuters’ preferences, saying that the government would later decide whether to extend the card-based system beyond 2030.

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Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat has publicly apologized for the government’s decision to phase out traditional public transport payment cards, acknowledging the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) underestimation of some commuters’ strong preferences.

Originally facing a 1 June deadline, this decision has elicited significant public backlash. “I apologise to our commuters for what happened,” Chee remarked in a press stop interview on 26 January.

“We will learn from this and we will do better in future.”

His statement comes amid widespread dissatisfaction from commuters unable to see fare deductions and card balances in the new system, leading to an embarrassing reversal of the planned phase-out.

The LTA announced on 9 January its plans to retire the older card-based ticketing system based on card-based technology (CBT), utilized by EZ-link and Nets FlashPay cards, in favour of SimplyGo, an account-based system.

This shift was intended to streamline fare payments at the back end, moving away from the traditional method of storing transaction data on cards.

However, this announcement faced immediate backlash. Commuters expressed their frustration, especially over not being able to see fare deductions and card balances directly on the cards. Adding to the complexity, some commuters experienced delays in upgrading their EZ-link cards due to a surge in transaction volume on 10 January.

In a Facebook post on 22 January, Chee addressed these concerns, stating, “We underestimated the strong preference of some commuters” who wished to continue viewing fare deductions and card balances at fare gates and card readers. He further added, “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.”

In response to the uproar, Chee announced that the government will invest an estimated sum of additional S$40 million to extend the lifespan of the card-based ticketing system. This move permits passengers to continue using the older payment cards.

Reflecting on the initial decision-making process, Chee noted that while the LTA had consulted more than 1,000 commuters from 2020 to 2023 about SimplyGo, which resulted in keeping the concession cards for the seniors, they had failed to capture a broader range of reactions and preferences.

He said, “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.”

Chee also spoke about the future of public transport ticketing, emphasizing the need for wider consultation on significant changes like SimplyGo. He mentioned, “There is no fixed number to get a representative range of views.”

The additional $40 million is projected to maintain the card-based ticketing system until at least 2030. Chee explained that this extension necessitates significant investment in new equipment, maintenance, and operating costs, which the government will shoulder without impacting bus and train fares.

Chee noted the technical challenges in integrating the fare display feature into SimplyGo, a problem that remains unsolved. He committed that the authorities would later decide whether to extend the card-based system beyond 2030, based on the technical feasibility of SimplyGo displaying fares on payment readers.

The minister emphasized the government’s commitment to work with other agencies and industry partners to improve SimplyGo’s features and user experience. He acknowledged the absence of a current technical solution for the fare display issue but remained optimistic about finding one.

Singapore will now operate three public transport ticketing systems: SimplyGo, the existing card-based system for adult transport cards, and a separate system for concession cards. Chee mentioned plans to integrate the two card-based systems over time to reduce costs, though he noted that compatibility issues would necessitate a gradual process.

“For example, when the existing cards expire, we are then able to move users to an integrated system and issue them a new card under this system. Over time, as we do this, we can then have the opportunity to integrate the two systems progressively,” he stated.

Chee assured that the LTA and the MOT are committed to spending the allocated funds prudently while balancing fiscal responsibility and public preferences. However, when asked by the media, Chee, the MOT, and LTA did not provide specific details regarding the operational costs of running all the ticketing systems or the expected lifespan of the concession card system.

Public transport systems in locations such as Hong Kong and London, which have started transitioning to account-based ticketing platforms, still operate card-centric payment systems simultaneously. This approach accommodates the needs of diverse groups, even as the number of users for CBT cards declines.

According to data provided by Chee, approximately 36% of commuters were still using CBT cards as of December 2023.

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Who was in the focus group that LTA surveyed to come to the decision to scrap the old EzLink etc system in favour of SimplyGo? How were these people selected? In any case, in a marketing course, we were told to NEVER trust “focus group surveys”. More important is what these people actually DO and Buy, NOT what they SAY they do and buy.

They underestimated because most of them are not commuters. They live in lofty places, not like us, on the ground. Cut them some slack, no?

Again, when others failed in their duty, the pappies call for hara-kiri.

When the pappies themselves fuxked up in their duty, they say: “We will learn from this and we will do better in future.”

Paying themselves million$ to practice hypocrisy, hor.

Haha, “underestimation of .. preference”? Is this pee air pee’s new way of admitting they have loss touch with the local born civilians?

It appears drastically clear, Chee IS NOT CUT out to take over Iswaran. And Chee is typical DNA of self appointed aggrandised Millionaire Lawmaker PAP produced to sell to Sheeps they are elites. Balls.

Fakes after fakes, half bakes after half bakes, persuaded to sheeps they are fully delicious and edible to satisfy. Goodness – UNIQUELY SG.

Foreign Trash’s toes tickled endlessly.

are we First World Country? ask cotton and pineapple lovers. tsk tsk tsk

Why more than 2 million people getting handouts? tsk tsk tsk

its okay= ” Lets Move On” . “Its an Honest Mistakes” What do you think? tsk tsk tsk

Was there BIG UNFORGETTABLE IMPACT, from their Political Influencers, they NEED to imbibe with, and work with the NO BLAME CULTURE at their backs?

It appears the PAP Administration has A CULT Persona in this No Blame Culture to permeate in their political hobby of toying with Sheepgapore.

The LIARS are sooooo bloody afraid, sooooo bloody DISHONEST to Simplygo and say “MADE A MISTAKE”. What’s the point to say, “judgement of error”.

So what is THIS ERROR about – they were sleeping so think erroneously,

OR paid too much thinking HOW TO SPEND CNY,

OR, SG Reserves sooooo blooody MUCH to draw, NO NEED concern HOW TO SPEND WISELY, bcz Ah Gong’s SLA, Home Boss and his friend NEVER THINK twice about MONEY FLOATING around?

No need to consult widely. How big is SillyPore for f sake !!!

Just as long as they’re not “yes” people or boot lickers or your typical Ah Seng or Ah Kow or Ah Lian, … who’ll “buy” whatever it is that you’re selling !!!

And that crappy, … “we will do better” is way past it’s “use by date”, especially for a regime that pays itself as “the bestest” !!!

Just more crappy excuses and bull, … whenever the shit hits the fan !!!

Same old, same old, same old !!!

Hog wash?

what apology? Wait until Shame or rajah come out to DEFEND!

no need apology one! Just do what is right and do the right thing? Pappies got new money……NTUC VOUCHERS?

See? When our ministers make a mistake, we apologize. What about Lim Tean? Has he apologized for stalking the poor girl? No wonder we Singaporeans won’t vote for those oppie nutheads

Winning the next GE by a good margin is a prize that the Lawrence Wong’s 4G team is after, and these responsive decisions could be part of a winning strategy. By being open to listening and adapting, they show a commitment to serving the people, which would resonate with voters and secure their vote. They would surely solve this EzLink/SimplyGo situation from now.

Dun wayang, lah. Where got “underestimation”? Show us the survey or feasibility study by LTA. More like no consultation with commuters, just jam another Ownself decision down our throats. Then when push back by commuters, now say it is “underestimation”, hor. Million$ monkeys standards, indeed. Recall also the bicycle/PMD sharing pedestrian walkways? Where got survey with pedestrians? LTA can’t even coordinate with MND/NParks on how a sister agency can get specs. for park connectors right but not LTA on walkways if needed for bicycles to share with pedestrians. Ministers and/or their ministers of state can’t talk to each other? Coordination… Read more »

To spend OR WASTEULLLY use $40,000,000.00 to learn lessons?

The WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE SURVEY costs $40,000,000.00 of Singapreans MONEY and DRAINED off more than $40,000,000.00 from National Reserves That SURELY can be used SUFFICIENTLY to FEED MORE numbers of POORER people in SG OR OR OR lower the Cost of Living for 100s of 1000s of TOUGH to survive Working Sheeps. The ACTUAL SURVEY costs FORCING Sheeps to be poorer IS MORE THAN $40,000,000.00 the figure which DID NOT takes INTO account the Entire DEVELOP costs of SimplyGo. Is it reasonable to assume Simply Go is Another AT LEAST $50,000,000.00 which then ADDS UP PAP Administration RAIDED our Reserves… Read more »

LTA only consulted more than 1 thousand people and thought they can represent Singapore’s almost 6m population….lol. LTA must be a clown.
No wonder all those government surveys usually don’t reflect on actual ground.
Recently news reported many stalls and citizens love to use CDC Vouchers. I think the survey was also skewed. Many stalls don’t accept it now.
Every year SPF also reported decreasing crimes. But on newspapers and TV it is the opposite.
In this case, Chee hong tart must sack many of the LTA top management.

Effective and logical feedback can only be from the online community. On the ground, most are PAP supporters so they lack critical thinking. CHT please re-instate the cash payment tickets as sometimes the EZ card magnetic strip does not work and nowadays only certain MRT counters address this issue. You will have to walk home when it happens .Alternatively, provide the replacement cards at all MRT stations, as in the past. Thank you for the U-turn and apologies.

So must be 2030 establish Sin Empire lah …

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