Hands-free fare gates on trial at 4 MRT stations

ST VIDEO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Madam Chew Bee Que, 67, trying out the hands-free fare gate at Redhill MRT station yesterday. Selected commuters can use a radio-frequency ID card or a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device with a specific application to pay.
Madam Chew Bee Que, 67, trying out the hands-free fare gate at Redhill MRT station yesterday. Selected commuters can use a radio-frequency ID card or a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device with a specific application to pay.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Wheelchair users carrying mobile device or special ID on them won't need to tap cards

People with disabilities can breeze through gates in MRT stations without having to tap their fare cards, as part of a trial that started yesterday.

At gates in Bedok, Kembangan, Redhill and Tiong Bahru MRT stations, selected commuters can pay their fares with a radio-frequency identification card or a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device with a specific application.

The device and card do not need to be put in close contact with the fare reader and can be kept in a bag or a pocket.

Yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary launched the new fare gate at Redhill MRT station, as part of a trial at the four stations.

From this month to November, 22 commuters in wheelchairs and 28 Land Transport Authority (LTA) staff members can use the 0.9m-wide gates as part of their daily commute, under the initiative by LTA and ST Engineering.

During the trial, LTA will monitor the effectiveness of the new gates and work with industry partners to assess their long-term feasibility.

Whether the gates will be introduced at all stations also depends on the cost.

Madam Chew Bee Que, 67, trying out the hands-free fare gate at Redhill MRT station yesterday. Selected commuters can use a radio-frequency ID card or a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device with a specific application to pay.
Madam Chew Bee Que, 67, trying out the hands-free fare gate at Redhill MRT station yesterday. Selected commuters can use a radio-frequency ID card or a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device with a specific application to pay. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Dr Janil said the trial is part of an effort towards making Singapore's public transport system more inclusive for people with mobility problems.

He added that, after the trial, aspects of the technology such as sensitivity and precision may need to be improved.

"Only with fine-tuning can a good technical solution translate into a good user experience."

MINUS THE KNOCKS AND BUMPS

The problem with the old system was that I had to find and tap the card and then quickly push my wheelchair through before the gate closed. I ended up knocking into the gate a few times.

MR ROHAIZAD ROSLAN, 38, who has an above-knee amputation and uses a motorised wheelchair, on the problem with the current fare gates.

The commuters in wheelchairs were chosen by LTA from organisations such as SG Enable and voluntary welfare organisation SPD.

Fare cards now in use, such as ez-link cards, need to be placed close to fare readers.

Trial participant Rohaizad Roslan, 38, has an above-knee amputation and uses a motorised wheelchair.

He said: "The problem with the old system was that I had to find and tap the card and then quickly push my wheelchair through before the gate closed.

"I ended up knocking into the gate a few times."

He added that the new gate would reduce his reliance on his wife, who previously tapped his fare card for him, and encourage him to commute independently on trains.

The new fare gates will also make commuting by train easier for the elderly and those with children in strollers.

A trial for hands-free ticketing technology on buses will start at the end of the year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'Hands-free fare gates on trial at 4 MRT stations'. Print Edition | Subscribe