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Short queues as eligible SimplyGo users collect new ez-link cards on first day of distribution

Short queues as eligible SimplyGo users collect new ez-link cards on first day of distribution

Published on

19 Mar 2024

Published by

The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Heading to the ticket office at Chinatown MRT station to collect a new free ez-link card was on part-time events manager Phillip Loo’s to-do list for the afternoon of March 18, since he was in the area.


It was the first day of an ez-link card collection exercise for eligible users of the account-based ticketing system SimplyGo.


The collection process for the ez-link card, which is compatible with an older, card-based ticketing system, was a breeze for Mr Loo, as there were just two people ahead of him in the queue at about 1.30pm.


The 54-year-old, who is familiar with the functions of the SimplyGo app, already has push notifications for the app switched on. This allows him to receive “almost immediate” updates on public transport fare deductions.


But Mr Loo said he still wanted to collect the ez-link card as a spare for his family.


A smooth collection process was also observed at eight other MRT stations and one bus interchange that The Straits Times visited on March 18. Queues were fairly short and moved quickly, allowing most passengers to get their cards within five to 10 minutes.


Ez-link cards operate on a card-based system that stores transaction data on the cards and, therefore, fare information is displayed on fare readers. This is not possible with SimplyGo, which processes fare payments at the back end and transactions can be viewed only digitally, such as on its app.


The Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) announcement on Jan 9 that all adult passengers must update, before June 1, their existing travel cards to SimplyGo sparked an outcry. Passengers were frustrated with the inability to see fare data when tapping out of buses and MRT stations with SimplyGo.


LTA shelved the move on Jan 22. With the decision reversed, passengers can continue using ez-link and Nets FlashPay cards, which are compatible with the card-based system, until at least 2030.


LTA said on Feb 28 that eligible SimplyGo users – adult passengers who updated their cards to SimplyGo or bought a SimplyGo ez-link card between Jan 9 and 22 – can collect new ez-link cards from 44 ticket offices islandwide. This will allow them to see fare information on card readers once again.


But they may continue using their SimplyGo-compatible cards, if they prefer, even after collecting the new cards.


In addition, those who bought a SimplyGo-compatible Nets Prepaid Card from Jan 9 to 22 can collect a free Nets FlashPay card at ticket offices from April 1 to June 30.


At each station or interchange ST visited on March 18, two or three crew members were seen helping passengers in the queues, with the collection schedule for adult ez-link cards displayed on large banners at the start of the lines.


Some passengers were, however, unaware that the card distribution is being staggered based on the last digit of a user’s SimplyGo ez-link card identification number.


For example, the distribution period between March 18 and 24 is for those with ez-link card identification numbers ending with the digit 1 or 2. Those with numbers ending in 3 or 4, 5 or 6, 7 or 8 and 9 or 0 are scheduled to collect theirs in the coming weeks.


On March 18, some passengers with ineligible cards, including those with card numbers that did not end with 1 or 2, were turned away.


Commercial diver Jimmy Koh, 50, said a staff member told him he was ineligible to collect a new ez-link card in this collection exercise. He said he would buy an ez-link card compatible with the card-based system, so he can see his fare deductions instantly again.


Most of the 11 passengers interviewed by ST reported a hassle-free collection process for the free card.


Between 12.30pm and 1pm at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange, up to six people were queueing at the ticket office at any given time, and three people collected their new ez-link cards during this period.


The ticket office at Raffles Place MRT station had lines of up to five people forming at any one time from 12.30pm to 12.50pm. Only one passenger was seen collecting a new ez-link card during that period.


Some passengers looking to do card top-ups were redirected to automated ticketing machines and crew members guided them through the process.


Retail supervisor Ng Ming Chai, 60, collected his ez-link card in less than a minute at Chinatown MRT station.


Mr Ng said he had “no complaints”, as he needed only to produce his SimplyGo card, and received his new ez-link card almost instantly after a staff member verified the last digit of his current card.


As at 4pm on March 18, about 1,200 ez-link cards had been collected from ticket offices, LTA told ST.



Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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