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LTA reviewing use of ticketing machines

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is reviewing the use of ticketing machines in MRT, LRT and bus interchanges. A pilot study in four MRT stations will also be done to encourage more commuters to use the e-payment method to top-up their travel cards.

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is reviewing the use of ticketing machines in MRT, LRT and bus interchanges.

A pilot study in four MRT stations will also be done to encourage more commuters to use the e-payment method to top-up their travel cards.

Currently, seven in 10 commuters use cash to top-up their travel cards.

LTA says it wants to encourage more commuters to use non-cash transactions, and is exploring ways to do so.

Nicholas Lee, CEO of EZ-Link, said: "We see a lot of emerging trends in contactless payments in the retail space using things like payWave by Visa, PayPass by Mastercard, and maybe this is one way -- instead of inserting cash or inserting ATM cards, entering a PIN, you can just tap your contactless credit or debit card."

Another form of cashless top-ups is through e-payments.

Commuters can automatically top-up their travel card when it is low in value by using Giro, or credit and debit cards.

Those who are already using e-payments acknowledge the convenience.

Aaron Lim, a train commuter, said: "There are times when during rush hour you are rushing for the train, and the worst thing to happen to you is when you tap your card, and you realise, ‘oh no I don't have any more cash’, so you have to go top up, so it's a hassle. So, if you have the Giro, it's actually faster."

Another commuter, Magdalene Seah, said: "I really save a lot of time walking to the queue and queuing up, so it’s much more convenient."

To promote e-payment top-ups, LTA will conduct a pilot study for three to six months in four MRT stations.

Before the start of the pilot study, a survey will be conducted with at least 5,000 commuters across various stations.

The objective is to establish the profile of commuters using cash for top-ups, and how they can be enticed to use e-payments instead to do top-ups.

Commuters' ticketing experience can also be enhanced by new technology that is now available.

One of them is the Be-In Be-Out system.

The system is a hands-free process, where commuters can carry their travel card in their pocket or their jacket.

Dr Alexander Erath, senior researcher at Future Cities Laboratory, said: "This means that you don't need to tap in, or tap out anymore, but there is a receiver that recognises if you are in or if you are out, and then it will compute how much time, how much distance you actually spend with what kind of vehicle, and will automatically subtract the value from your account.

“It's actually faster if you don't need to tap in and tap out.”

LTA will engage a consultant to study new ticketing technology and what is done in other cities like Hong Kong, and London. 

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