Government to help ‘small minority’ cope with transition to cashless public transport
Commuters at the fare gantry of an MRT station. (File photo: TODAY)
SINGAPORE: Amid its push to make the public transport system cashless, the Government will focus its attention on the “small minority” who will need help with the transition, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday (Sep 11).About 150 service agents - a quarter of whom are senior citizens - will be deployed at MRT stations over the next nine months, to help commuters learn how to use the ticketing machines.Other agencies such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will also be roped in to make e-payments more accessible to all. These include people who do not have bank accounts, which is the case for some foreign workers. As part of Singapore’s Smart Nation push, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and its subsidiary TransitLink announced last month its goal to have a fully cashless public transport system by 2020.
Already, cash top-up services at 11 MRT stations were removed on Sep 1, and the Thomson-East Coast Line will be Singapore's first cashless rail line from 2019. In response to questions from MPs on what will be done to help certain demographics of the population such as the elderly, Dr Lam said: “We will manage the transition gradually over several years, so that no commuter needs to feel left out.”
use of mobile payment modes such as Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. This means commuters can simply use their mobile phones to tap in and out on trains and buses.
Other payment schemes such as Visa and NETS 2.0 holders will come on board from June 2018.
The ABT system, which allows commuters to use contactless credit or debit cards to tap in and out of the public transport system, will eventually be fully rolled out, Dr Lam added.This will help commuters, including tourists, to “avoid the hassle of doing cash top-ups”, he said.At the moment, two out of three commuters continue to top up their cards with cash, which is a “cumbersome” process, according to Dr Lam. The maintenance of cash facilities at MRT stations and buses also imposes additional costs of almost S$20 million a year, he said.
For commuters who continue to use CEPAS cards, Dr Lam said electronic top-ups will be made more convenient. For example, commuters will be able to top up their travel cards online, through GIRO or using their mobile phones.Dr Lam added that the LTA and TransitLink will ensure that cash alternatives for the payment of transport rides will remain available near public transport nodes,to cater to commuters who find it difficult to transit to cashless payments.