Singapore transport officials were not prepared for the backlash they received this month after they announced that customers would have to turn in their legacy closed-loop cards for cards that work with account-based ticketing. The ABT fail has implications for transit agencies globally–many of which are rolling out ABT or considering doing so.
A contrite Singaporean transport minister, Chee Hong Tat, apologized to LTA customers for what he called a “judgment error.” He pledged the government would spend SG$40 million (US$29.8 million) on hardware and operations and maintenance to keep the card-based system running for adult full-fare riders at least through 2030.
Singapore’s Land Transport Authority for several years was an enthusiastic supporter of account-based ticketing and of its own implementation of the technology–even sometimes referring to its project by the industry abbreviation for the technology, “ABT,” in promotions to the public.
But that enthusiasm changed Jan. 9, after transport officials had announced to customers that they would have to give up their legacy closed-loop cards in favor of new ABT fare cards.