SINGAPORE: Commuters will no longer be able to use cash to top up their travel cards at the passenger service centres (PSCs) of 11 MRT stations from Friday (Sep 1).
The move was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and TransitLink last month and is part of Singapore's move towards a fully cashless public transport system by 2020.
The 11 stations involved are: Admiralty, Bedok, Bukit Panjang, Buona Vista, Farrer Park, HarbourFront, Hougang, Lakeside, Pasir Ris, Serangoon and Yew Tee.
Cash top-ups for those stations are still available at existing general ticketing machines (GTMs), as well as convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Cheers. About 150 service agents have been deployed to these stations to help commuters – particularly seniors – adapt to the new change.
Since the announcement on Aug 11, fewer cash top-ups have been recorded. According to TransitLink on Friday, “the average number of top-ups performed at the PSCs per day decreased by 37 per cent in the two weeks after the announcement”.
TransitLink said commuter response has been encouraging.
“Commuters did not have much of an issue when our service agents guided them to top up their travel cards at the GTMs, and mostly found e-payment processes simple,” said the spokesperson.
“Our figures show that the average number of top-ups performed at the GTMs per day has increased by 32 per cent in the two weeks after the announcement. The average number of top-ups performed per day at GTMs through e-payment modes increased by 19 per cent,” he added.
TransitLink noted in particular that “the average number of seniors who performed top-ups at PSCs per day dropped by almost 40 per cent”.
In contrast, the percentage of senior citizens who used GTMs for their transactions increased to 46 per cent as of Aug 27 - up from the 28 per cent recorded in July among seniors at the 11 stations.
Service agent Veronica Sim, who helped commuters with the transition, said some commuters - particularly the elderly - have displayed some resistance to using the ticketing machines.
“I told them it’s very simple, ‘three steps only, I teach you’. Then they say ‘okay’. Then after learning I say, ‘is it simple?’ Then they say ‘yes, very good, very simple, much easier than last time’,” Madam Sim said.
The 70-year-old, who has been using the ticketing machines for her own top-ups, added the gradual transition would be helpful for seniors who may find it challenging at first: “I will ask them to try to familiarise (themselves) with the machine first by using cash. Once you know the machine well, you can convert to credit card or ATM card (when you top-up).”
Sim Puay Geok, 72, who had always transacted by cash at the passenger service centres, said she is now used to using GTMs: “Now I’m used to it already. They told me now (how to use it) and I can. It’s not so bad, it’s easy.”
However, for 88-year-old Tan Beng Yew, going completely cashless at the ticketing machines will take some time.
“I have a NETS card, but I think using cash (to pay) is much easier. I’m familiar with cash,” he said.