Public transport users in the Klang Valley already know that RapidKL has eliminated paper Rapidpasses as of 1 August 2010, replacing them with an electronic pass using the Touch n’ Go platform.
This is not the first time that RapidKL has looked into introducing an all-electronic pass. However, the previous versions of Rapidpass were withdrawn from service in December 2007 due to problems.
The main difference between the old and the new passes are:
- the platform – an electronic platform vs. a manual one
- the length of access – various formats of up to 30 days for the electronic pass, vs. 1 month for the manual passes
- the speed of boarding and viewing/processing – slower for an electronic pass and higher for a manual pass
- the flexibility of the system – higher for an electronic pass and lower for a manual pass
- the accuracy of verification – higher for an electronic pass (assuming the reader is reliable) and lower for a manual pass
- the accuracy of the data – higher for an electronic pass and lower for a manual pass
- the cost of the service – higher for an electronic pass and lower for a manual pass
- security concerns – issues related to data management, data security and the privacy of consumer information for the electronic pass, as compared to financial security for the manual pass
Based on the above summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the electronic platform vs. the manual platform, it is clear that the advantages of the electronic pass are clearly greater than the manual pass.
However, the real question is whether the electronic pass is more efficicent and suitable for the needs of RapidKL and of public transport users. RapidKL has constantly argued that the all-electronic pass will save them money and reduce waiting times at LRT stations and on buses. They also argue that having a 30 day pass rather than a monthly pass will give riders more flexibility.
Public transport users have mainly expressed concerns about the need for the shift to the all-electronic platform, the reliability of the Touch n’ Go readers, and the issue of the 30 days pass in months with 31 days (but interestingly, no one complains about the 30 days pass in February).
- New Touch ‘n Go system at LRT stations and buses next month (The Star);
- RapidPass set to go electronic (The Star)
We at TRANSIT believe that the concerns about the migration could be easily addressed if RapidKL put more effort into discussing the advantages of the 30 day pass over the monthly pass, as well as making full use of the advantages of the electronic platform.
One important advantage is access to valuable information about public transport usage patterns – which can be used to help plan services and ensure that the supply of public transport meets the demand. This presumes that RapidKL is interested in taking advantage of these data and using them to improve service.
Another factor that can help improve service is the provision of multiple TnG readers on buses – encouraging passengers to board from the front and rear doors and tap on/off would reduce congestion and waiting time since passengers would not have to file past the driver.
As you can imagine, we do not think that RapidKL is ready to take advantage of the available data and use it to improve service – much less to find ways to improve the introduction of the electronic pass so that it really meets the needs of public transport users.
But we want to know what public transport users want from their TnG cards. So please, respond with your feedback below.