Singapore public transport system to be fully cashless by 2020: LTA

The government plans to achieve a fully cashless public transport system by 2020. (Photo: Yahoo Singapore)
The government plans to achieve a fully cashless public transport system by 2020. (Photo: Yahoo Singapore)

By 2020, commuters travelling on Singapore’s transport system will no longer need to use cash or top up stored-value cards to pay for rides, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and TransitLink in a joint press release on Friday (11 August).

LTA and TransitLink will launch initiatives to bring about a fully cashless public transport system, which is in line with the country’s Smart Nation efforts.

Account-Based Ticketing

A major initiative is Account-Based Ticketing (ABT), which LTA has been piloting with Mastercard since March this year.

ABT is more convenient for commuters as they just need to tap their contactless credit or debit cards on bus or MRT fare readers, without the need for top-ups. They can also track all their public transport transactions online.

Over 100,000 people have taken part in the ABT pilot and feedback has been encouraging. LTA and TransitLink are therefore planning to extend the ongoing pilot beyond its originally planned duration of six months.

Cashless payment options

LTA and TransitLink have also been encouraging commuters to go cashless by expanding cashless payment options for stored-value card transactions.

Since January this year, General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) at all train stations have been equipped with the option of topping up stored-value cards using personal bank cards, as well as mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Streamlining cash ticketing services

Cash top-up services at Passenger Service Centres will gradually be removed from 1 September 2017. The first 11 stations to have the cash top-up services removed will be Admiralty, Bedok, Bukit Panjang, Buona Vista, Farrer Park, HarbourFront, Hougang, Lakeside, Pasir Ris, Serangoon and Yew Tee.

Meanwhile, there will still be cash top-ups available at existing GTMs at all train stations, as well as at convenience stores such as 7-11 and Cheers.

Over the next few years, LTA and TransitLink will progressively remove cash payment options for public transport transactions, including fare payment on buses and stored-value card services at train stations.

Helping commuters

With such big changes, LTA and TransitLink recognise that some commuters may need help switching to cashless payment.

As such, service agents will be stationed at the first 11 stations to have cash top-up services removed. LTA and TransitLink will also ensure that there will be cash alternatives to paying for public transport rides, such as the sale and top-up of stored-value cards at convenience stores.

Other agencies and grassroots organisations will also step in to inform residents, and help them with the acquiring of banking facilities where necessary, to facilitate their transition to cashless public transit.

LTA announced its plan for a cashless transport system in Singapore by 2020. (Photo: LTA/ Facebook)
LTA announced its plan for a cashless transport system in Singapore by 2020. (Photo: LTA/ Facebook)

LTA’s Group Director for Technology and Industry Development, Lam Wee Shann, said, “The growth of electronic payments has rapidly transformed the public transport ticketing scene, with cash payments and top-ups being replaced by convenient, fuss-free cashless options.”

He added, “A major milestone will be the opening of the first cashless rail line from 2019 – the Thomson-East Coast Line. With more than 7 million ticketing transactions each day, a fully cashless public transport system will be an important step in Singapore’s quest to become a cashless society and a Smart Nation.

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