SINGAPORE: The announcement that the Land Transport Authority would not yet, after all, phase out adult EZ-Link cards and NETS FlashPay cards was commended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, on Friday morning (Jan 26).

In a Facebook post, Mdm Ho wrote, “I applaud the leadership for having the guts to listen and take the decision to reverse the earlier LTA plan.”

She added a link to a Jan 26 commentary from CNA that explained the outrage over the EZ-Link controversy. The public was unhappy over the announcement from LTA on Jan 9 saying EZ-Link adult cards that had not been upgraded to SimplyGo EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards would no longer be accepted after June 1.

This “caused a public uproar about whether it was necessary to change a system that was not broken. It didn’t help that the platform’s name lent itself well to memes and jibes online – it was ‘SimplyNo’ for many,” pointed out Emir Hrnjic and Gordon R Clarke in the CNA piece.

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The decision was walked back by Jan 22, saying that EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards, as well as SimplyGo-compatible cards, may continue to be used.

LTA had noted that two out of three of adult card fares already use SimplyGo, which Mdm Ho commented on.

“When 1/3 is still on the stored value card, it sounds like a minority.

But this minority takes over a million trips a day – that is a lot of user experience and needs that shouldn’t be overlooked,” she wrote.

“It does say something about the UI/UX design and the systems overview in firstly the design of the new system and secondly in the rush to sunset the older system without regard to user needs and confidence.

Takes courage to reverse the decision – so I salute those with the courage to do so,” she added.

Why the change?

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LTA had said on Jan 9 that the phase-out had been intended as part of the transition towards the SimplyGo system first introduced in 2019.

However, many were unhappy with the change, wondering why there needed to be a switch for a system that had nothing wrong with it in the first place.

In announcing the extension of using the EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards, LTA wrote, “We seek commuters’ understanding that we require some time to prepare our operations for the card exchange, to minimise inconvenience to commuters. Details will be available by end February.

Meanwhile, we will continue to enhance SimplyGo to provide a better user experience.” /TISG

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