The recent announcement by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) regarding the phasing out of the traditional EZLink card in favour of the SimplyGo system has sparked various concerns and discussions among commuters in Singapore.
While the move aims to streamline the public transport payment platform, issues ranging from privacy concerns to practical challenges have emerged.
First Issue: Privacy Concerns
As all things digital, data collected has to be stored somewhere.
The terms and conditions stated on the SimplyGo website indicate that by registering for a SimplyGo account, users consent to TransitLink collecting, using, disclosing, and storing their personal data for various purposes, including administering accounts and processing transaction details.
The agreement also allows the collection and use of personal data for promotional purposes, raising eyebrows among those worried about the extent of data collection and its potential misuse.
Screengrab of SimplyGo’s Terms and Conditions, SimplyGo
Second Issue: Lack of Transparency in Transaction Details
A common complaint among netizens is the absence of real-time balance display on the SimplyGo card when tapped at MRT fare gates or bus card readers.
Unlike the previous Card-Based Ticketing (CBT) system, SimplyGo processes transactions at the backend, leading to delays in obtaining and displaying balance information.
The inconvenience has prompted users to rely on the SimplyGo app or ticketing machines, which some find less intuitive and user-friendly.
A simple illustration of the difference between SimplyGo and traditional EzLink, Roger Ng
Resistance from Commuters
The transition to SimplyGo has faced resistance, especially from those who prefer the simplicity of the older system.
The decision to phase out adult EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards has drawn criticism, with commuters expressing frustration over the perceived forced adoption of a new system.
The complaints extend to the requirement of using the SimplyGo app for balance checks, posing challenges for seniors and individuals who may not be tech-savvy.
In response to the uproar, the LTA has emphasised the benefits of SimplyGo, such as the ability to top up multiple EZ-Link cards through the mobile app and block transactions if a card is misplaced.
The LTA spokesperson justified the decision to transition, citing the operational lifespan constraints of the old CBT system and the cost-effectiveness of maintaining a single payment platform.
They highlighted that two in three adult commuters had already adopted SimplyGo by December 2023.
Government Measures to Ease Transition
Acknowledging the challenges, the LTA has implemented measures to ease the transition, including deploying service ambassadors at train stations and bus interchanges and publicising SimplyGo features through various channels.
The government has also assured that concession card holders, including seniors, are not affected by the changes, emphasising their commitment to ensuring a smooth transition.
Finding a Balance Moving Towards a Smarter Nation
The transition to SimplyGo represents a significant shift in Singapore’s public transport payment landscape.
While the government emphasises the benefits and cost-effectiveness of a unified system, concerns about privacy, transparency, and the convenience of the new platform have surfaced.
It remains to be seen how the government will address these concerns and whether additional measures will be introduced to make the transition more seamless for all commuters, particularly those who may face challenges adapting to the new system.
As Singapore moves towards a more technologically advanced transport payment system, finding a balance between convenience and addressing public concerns will be crucial for the successful implementation of SimplyGo.