Faster bus fare payment updates for commuters, decluttered dashboard for bus drivers, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Faster bus fare payment updates for commuters, decluttered dashboard for bus drivers

By 2027, bus commuters can expect their contactless fare payments to show up more quickly on the SimplyGo app, as part of a tech refresh by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Bus drivers will also operate a single unified display, instead of two, to help them focus better on the roads.

LTA announced earlier in July that it was calling tenders to replace the ticketing and fleet management systems for public buses. The ticketing system is 10 years old, and the fleet management system has been around for seven years.

Also being replaced are hardware systems – such as fare collection equipment on buses and in depots – that are reaching the end of their expected lifespan. Back-end systems will also be refreshed to “keep pace with technological advancements and improve operational performance”, LTA added.

Work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2024 and finish in 2027.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, LTA said the upgrade in network capabilities would pave the way for faster updates of fare payment information on the SimplyGo app.

SimplyGo is an account-based system that allows commuters to pay for train and bus rides using their bank cards. Commuters with the app can see the fares charged, and information such as bus routes and timings.

Commuters interviewed said it takes two to five minutes for fare payments to be logged on the app now.

Undergraduate Ziv Ng, 21, said: “There’s clearly a lag for card transaction info to be reflected right now. And it’s slightly annoying, especially when you want to track expenses or have a quick indication of how much the fare is.”

This was echoed by fellow undergraduate Dawn Chia, 19, who said the lag sometimes made her worry she had not tapped out properly.

Mr Ng and Ms Chia welcomed the prospect of quicker updates. 

Based on tender documents seen by ST, present ticketing equipment is connected to an automated fare collection back-end system via a 3G mobile or depot wireless network. Under the new system, a 4G or 5G transmitter will connect equipment on buses to the fare collection and fleet management systems on the back end.

Bus captains will also benefit from the improvements.

At present, they work with two display units. One is for fleet management, containing such information as upcoming stops, as well as for communication with the Bus Operations Control Centre. The other unit allows bus captains to process fare payments.

After the tech refresh, they will operate just one unit. 

Bus operators told ST this would be a boon for the efficiency of bus captains.

A spokesman for Tower Transit Singapore said the single display would declutter the driver’s cab: “It’s like having a neat and uncluttered desk versus one that’s covered with many items.”

A Go-Ahead Singapore spokesman said the company’s bus drivers were comfortable operating two display units right now, but that the new technology would improve the interface.

Agreeing, Mr Vincent Gay, deputy managing director at SMRT Buses, said: “This saves time and frees (bus captains) for other tasks, such as routine safety and functional checks on the bus before commencing their journey.” 

SBS Transit spokesman Grace Wu said the new system would obviate the need for “additional training to equip our bus captains to use the two systems currently”.