37,000 people collect free ez-link, Nets FlashPay cards, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

37,000 people collect free ez-link, Nets FlashPay cards

Some 37,000 people, or about 13 per cent of adults eligible for a free travel card after the planned transition to a newer ticketing system was shelved, have picked up the cards as at June 30, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

That was the last day of a months-long exercise where eligible adults were given the option of collecting a free ez-link or Nets FlashPay card compatible with the older card-based ticketing system, which displays fare deductions and card balances on fare readers.

A total of 296,000 adults were eligible to pick up the free cards, LTA told The Straits Times on July 8.

To qualify, they must have converted their ez-link cards to SimplyGo – the newer account-based ticketing system – or bought a SimplyGo ez-link card between Jan 9 and 22.

Those who bought a SimplyGo-compatible Nets prepaid card in the same period could also pick up a free Nets FlashPay card that is compatible with the card-based system.

LTA on Jan 9 announced plans to phase out the older travel cards and have all adult passengers use SimplyGo from June 1, only to pull the plug on Jan 22 after an outcry.

The inability with SimplyGo to see fare data when tapping out of buses and MRT stations irked some passengers.

SimplyGo processes fare payments at the back end and transactions can be viewed only digitally, such as on its app. In contrast, older ez-link cards operate on the card-based system, which lets users see fare information on fare readers. 

LTA had said the conversion of cards to SimplyGo could not be reversed at ticket offices and was possible only if the cards were reformatted in “a secured environment”. But this meant commuters would have to surrender what might be their only travel card.

It was for this reason that the authority on Feb 28 announced it would issue new card-based ticketing cards to all eligible users as part of a staggered collection process at ticket offices from March 18 to June 30.

Among the 37,000 adult users who collected the free cards, fewer than 500 of the cards were Nets FlashPay cards, payment firm Nets told ST. 

Concession card holders who are seniors, people with disabilities or lower-wage workers, and adult monthly travel card holders, received replacement cards by mail between April 1 and May 31. To be eligible, they must have been issued SimplyGo cards or converted their travel cards to the account-based system on Jan 22 or earlier.

LTA said on July 8 that of the 67,000 concession card holders in this group, 38,000 – or about 57 per cent – have activated their replacement cards.

As the free distribution exercise has ended, those who wish to get a travel card compatible with the card-based system can buy one at: 

  • SimplyGo ticket offices, concession card replacement offices and ticketing service centres at MRT stations, bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs;
  • Passenger service centres at most MRT stations; and
  • Convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, including those at Shell petrol kiosks.

Part-time piano teacher Yong Loo Wen, 55, who converted her concession card to SimplyGo before Jan 22, was mailed a replacement card in April. 

She said she ended up updating the replacement card she received to SimplyGo as her SimplyGo card was deactivated.

She prefers the account-based system, which allows her to top up her card via the app on her mobile phone. “It’s safer because people will not see how much money is in your card.”

The LTA said that at present, about 71 per cent of adult fare transactions on public transport are made using SimplyGo ez-link or bank cards.