Sale of standard tickets - limited use paper tickets - at MRT stations will be progressively phased out between January and March 2022.
This comes as most commuters are already using stored value cards or account-based ticketing such as contactless bank cards.
Standard tickets were introduced to allow commuters to pay for their ride when the MRT system began operations in 1987, but now fewer than one in 1,000 trips are paid using these tickets, according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in August.
The LTA said… the move will start with the Thomson-East Coast and Downtown lines from Jan 10.
This will be followed by the Circle and North East lines on Feb 10, and the North-South and East-West lines on March 10.
The LTA has also reduced the minimum top-up amount for stored value cards such as ez-link cards at ticketing machines to $2, down from $10 for adults and $5 for student concession cards.
“This will allow commuters who have limited cash on hand to top up, continue their journeys and enjoy the cost savings,” said the LTA.
The move to phase out standard tickets - purchased for single or return trips - because of low usage was announced earlier in August.
The LTA said stored value cards and account-based ticketing options offer commuters more savings and convenience.
For example, a 3.2km trip costs $1.70 when using standard tickets, compared to $0.92 with stored value cards or account-based ticketing.
Following the announcement in August, it has been working with partners to contact seniors, lower-income groups and migrant workers to encourage them to switch to stored value cards or account-based payment.
Since September, letters have been sent to ComCare recipients who do not own a concession card to inform them that they are eligible for a free adult ez-link card.
These free cards can be redeemed at any of the 48 Transit Link ticket offices or concession card replacement offices within three months from the date of the letter.
“To assist commuters as standard tickets are phased out, service ambassadors will be deployed at selected train stations over January to March 2022,” the LTA said.
Associate Professor Walter Theseira of the Singapore University of Social Sciences said that it is ultimately a matter of balancing cost concerns.
“Of course, we should be concerned about the small number of passengers who simply can’t use any of the other ticketing systems. But putting in the effort to help them individually might be less difficult and costly than maintaining the entire standard ticketing system,” he said.
“It’s worth noting that it is common worldwide for public transport payment systems to not accept cash on board and to require payment through only limited types of tickets. Offering more payment options comes at a cost.”
… Responding to queries on what options tourists have once single-use tickets are scrapped, LTA said visitors to Singapore can use their existing contactless Visa or Mastercard bank cards or mobile wallets.
Alternatively, they can choose to purchase a stored value card or Singapore Tourist Pass, which are available for sale at TransitLink ticket offices islandwide.
I purchased two standard tickets at an MRT station as keepsakes - soon to be pieces of rail history.