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Netizens rally for user-centric systems amidst SimplyGo controversy

A NUS business professor and payments expert advocate for user-centric systems, asserting, “Systems should serve people – not the other way around.” This sentiment resonated with netizens, who echoed the call for prioritizing people’s needs over technological systems.



SINGAPORE:  Netizens are rallying behind the sentiment expressed by a National University of Singapore (NUS) business professor and payments expert, emphasizing that “systems should serve people – not the other way around.”

This perspective emerged following the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) embarrassing reversal of its decision to phase out adult EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards in favour of the SimplyGo platform for public transport.

The announcement, made just two weeks after the initial plan, triggered widespread public discontent.

Commuters voiced their dissatisfaction with the proposed changes, particularly regarding the inability to view fare charges or card balances with SimplyGo transactions.

Addressing the issue on Monday (22 January), Minister of Transport Chee Hong Tat apologized on behalf of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and LTA.

However, he justified their decision, citing the backend processing of SimplyGo transactions, which would potentially slow down entry and exit for commuters if real-time information were displayed.

He also disclosed an additional S$40 million to sustain the old system.

“Systems should serves people, not the other way around”

In a commentary report by ChannelNews Asia (CNA), Emir Hrnjic, Academic Director of UCLA-NUS Executive MBA at NUS Business School, and Gordon R Clarke, the Managing Director of Monetics, a Singapore-based payments consulting firm, emphasized the importance of systems being user-centric.

In the comment section, a significant number of users echoed this sentiment, indicating agreement with the notion that systems should serve people’s needs above all else.

One user asserted, “Suppose the technology serving people, not people serving the technology,” while another concurred, “Absolutely! System should serve the people and not the other way round!”

Criticism extended to the perceived oversight in transitioning to the new account-based SimplyGo platform without considering the features of the current card-based system, such as providing fare deduction and balance information at exit gates.

“Always ensure the new system is user-friendly, lack of planning and foresight contributed to all of this,” one user added.

Another user believes that technology and systems should prioritize the end users’ needs to enhance ease and convenience, rather than adding unnecessary complexity.

“Why fix something that is not spoilt or broken in the first place?” they expressed.

Additionally, there are also individuals advocating for retaining the old system, which is not surprising, as previous reports have also shown people defending the use of the old payment system.

One user expressed the view that reverting to the old system is unnecessary, asserting that as long as the current system allows for the viewing of card balance and fare deductions, it is satisfactory.

Calls for an explanation into the allocation of S$40 million were also voiced, with individuals seeking clarification from LTA regarding the necessity of this amount to maintain the current system.

“LTA should provide us, taxpayers, with an explanation,” one user stated, questioning the rationale behind spending S$40 million to sustain the existing system.

Another user responded, suggesting that “S$40 million is just half of the story.”

One user questioned the necessity of publicly announcing the allocation of S$40 million to maintain the old system, arguing that the public may not even be concerned.

“I don’t think the public asked MOT/LTA to keep the old system running,” the user expressed.

“What the public wants is for this new system to be able to perform the functions that the old system does, but in an improved version.”

Among the comments, there are also individuals who criticize those responsible for implementing the decision to switch to SimplyGo.

They question how many of them actually utilize public transport, as some believe that those advocating for the change in the system are “out of touch.”

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Experts will also say that: Govts should serve people, not the other way around
But hor, the reality around here ….

The simplest CHEAPEST way is to make public transit FREE. No delays (commuters simply walk through, no waiting), no obsolescent equipment to upgrade/write-off.

Dear Gordon Clark, Can You also part of use centric suggest that I can top up amounts lesser than $10 get thru the fare gates almost like buying single fare ticket and i a negative balance ensues at the end of the journey it will get cleared on my next top up like the good old days when fare cards were used. Sometimes that min $ 10 is difficult to come by but one got to get home. Ministers who drive and hardly take public transport won’t understand the plight of the man on the street. The GTM’s can be… Read more »