Transport Ministry Says Expansion of SimplyGo System to Include Motoring Paymentsby Fintech News Singapore February 7, 2024
Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat unveiled plans to expand the functionality of the SimplyGo account-based ticketing system to encompass motoring payments, in addition to its current applications in public transport and retail sectors.
During a Parliamentary session on February 5th, Mr. Chee expressed the government’s ambition to elevate SimplyGo stored-value cards to the versatility of the older EZ-Link cards, which already facilitate payments across public transport, motoring, and retail.
This ambitious expansion, however, is poised to require a considerable duration for implementation, as highlighted by Mr. Chee during a debate that spanned approximately 40 minutes. The complexity of integrating such solutions underpins the decision to extend the operational period of the card-based ticketing system for adult transport cards by an additional six years, extending its functionality until at least 2030.
This extension represents a significant investment of $40 million, aimed at ensuring continuity and efficiency in the ticketing system while the necessary enhancements for SimplyGo are developed.
In the interim, efforts are being made to enhance the user experience for SimplyGo patrons, including the installation of additional card readers at MRT stations and bus interchanges. These measures are intended to facilitate balance checks for users not utilising the SimplyGo mobile application, addressing one of the notable limitations of the SimplyGo system – the lack of visibility to display fares and balances on card readers due to its reliance on back-end servers for transaction data.
The transition to SimplyGo has been met with challenges, notably the decision to postpone the mandatory switch for all adult public transport users to SimplyGo, initially slated for June, was retracted shortly thereafter. Further complicating the landscape, a separate card-based ticketing system for concession cards will also be extended until at least 2030, reflecting a commitment to accommodate feedback from seniors and ensure a seamless integration of the two systems without disadvantaging passengers.
The discourse surrounding SimplyGo and its proposed enhancements has elicited a variety of inquiries from Members of Parliament, reflecting the public’s vested interest in the ticketing system’s evolution. Questions ranged from the financial implications of extending the card-based system to the potential for SimplyGo to become a universal payment card, compatible with future motoring charge systems.
Despite the hurdles, Mr. Chee reassured that the government would absorb the costs associated with the roll-out of SimplyGo and the continued use of card-based systems for both adults and concession-card holders, underscoring a commitment to prevent any fare impacts on passengers. The ongoing dialogue and the constructive feedback from MPs signify a concerted effort to refine SimplyGo, with the stated aims to optimise convenience without compromising service quality or passenger experience.
As the debate unfolds, the integration of SimplyGo into a broader array of payment functionalities represents a forward-looking approach to public transport ticketing, promising enhanced convenience and efficiency for users across Singapore’s transport network.
Featured image credit: Edited from Unsplash