Electronic Road Pricing

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This article is about a traffic management scheme in Singapore. For a similar proposed scheme in Hong Kong, see Electronic Road Pricing (Hong Kong). For the more general concept about direct road user charges, see road pricing.
ERP gantry at North Bridge Road

The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) (Malay: Sistem Elektronik Kadar Jalan ; Chinese: 电子道路收费系统) system is an electronic toll collection scheme adopted in Singapore to manage traffic by way of road pricing, and as a usage-based taxation mechanism to complement the purchase-based Certificate of Entitlement system. The ERP was implemented by the Land Transport Authority in September 1998[1] to replace the Singapore Area Licensing Scheme[2] after successfully stress-testing the system with vehicles running at high speed. Singapore was the first city in the world to implement an electronic road toll collection system for purposes of congestion pricing.[3] The system uses open road tolling; vehicles do not stop or slow down to pay tolls.

The system[edit]

An IU installed in a Comfort Taxi-managed Hyundai Sonata CRDI.

The scheme consists of ERP gantries located at all roads linking into Singapore's central business district – areas within the Central Area such as the Downtown Core. They are also located along the expressways and arterial roads with heavy traffic to discourage usage during peak hours. The gantry system is actually a system of sensors on 2 gantries, one in front of the other. Cameras are also attached to the gantries to capture the rear license plate numbers of vehicles. Currently, there are 80 ERP gantries in Singapore. New gantries are implemented where congestion is severe, like expressways and other roads.

A device known as an In-vehicle Unit (IU) is affixed on the lower right corner of the front windscreen within sight of the driver, in which a stored-value card, the CashCard, is inserted for payment of the road usage charges. The second generation IU accepts Contactless NETS CashCard and EZ-Link. The cost of an IU is S$150. It is mandatory for all Singapore-registered vehicles to be fitted with an IU if they wish to use the priced roads.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd sold the IU technology to Singapore, and the project was spearheaded by a Consortium comprising Philips Singapore Pte Ltd, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Miyoshi Electronic Corporation and CEI Systems and Engineering (now known as CSE Global Ltd) in 1995 through an open tender.

When a vehicle equipped with an IU passes under an ERP gantry, a road usage charge is deducted from the CashCard in the IU. Sensors installed on the gantries communicate with the IU via a dedicated short-range communication system, and the deducted amount is displayed to the driver on an LCD screen of the IU.

The charge for passing through a gantry depends on the location and time, the peak hour being the most expensive. Examples include a trip from Woodlands to Raffles Place via Yishun – CTE – CBD will cost about S$15 during peak as the driver will pass about 5 gantries, whereas during lunchtime, it will cost about S$2. Foreign visitors driving foreign-registered private vehicles on priced roads, during the ERP operating hours, could choose to either rent an IU or pay a daily flat fee of S$5 regardless how many ERP gantries entered, the payment is done and information is stored by Autopass Card until the vehicle leaves Singapore. Foreign-registered commercial vehicles, however, are required to install an IU.

If a vehicle owner does not have sufficient value in their CashCard (or EZ-Link) when passing through an ERP, the owner receives a fine by post within two weeks. The violator must pay the ERP charges plus a $10 administration fee within two weeks of the notice. Online payment is allowed; listing just the Vehicle Registration Number is required. Otherwise, a penalty of S$70 is issued by registered post to the vehicle owner, which rises to S$1000, or one month in jail, if not settled within 30 days.

Improvements and adaptations[edit]

Night works during the installation of a new ERP gantry at Hill View
An Electronic Parking System at Yishun

According to a paper presented in the World Roads Conference 2006, the Land Transport Authority has been testing a system based on the Global Positioning System that may eventually replace the current Electronic Road Pricing system. The proposed system overcomes the inflexibility of having physical gantries, which "are not so flexible when it comes to re-locating them".

A lightweight version of this same technology is implemented for use on parking, known as the Electronic Parking System (EPS). It has since been adopted in favour by several carpark operators, superseding the use of autopay tickets or parking coupons. These systems have also typically switched to charging by the minute.

Impact[edit]

The LTA reported that road traffic decreased by nearly 25,000 vehicles during peak hours, with average road speeds increasing by about 20%. Within the restricted zone itself, traffic has gone down by about 13% during ERP operational hours, with vehicle numbers dropping from 270,000 to 235,000. It has been observed that car-pooling has increased, while the hours of peak vehicular traffic has also gradually eased and spread into off-peak hours, suggesting a more productive use of road space. In addition, it has been noted that average road speeds for expressways and major roads remained the same, despite rising traffic volumes over the years.

In some cases, the implementation of an ERP gantry along a road may move the traffic to smaller roads. One instance of this is that the ERP gantry along the Central Expressway (CTE) has been said to have caused traffic to increase substantially in north-south trunk roads, such as along the Thomson Road and Serangoon Road corridors. The rising traffic prompted the LTA to add a gantry along Thomson Road, while Upper Serangoon Road's capacity was increased somewhat with the building of a new viaduct. Similarly, the ERP gantry on the East Coast Parkway's west-bound carriageway was said to have led to increased traffic on Geylang Road and Nicoll Highway, where ERP gantries were also placed subsequently.

Latest developments[edit]

In an effort to improve the pricing mechanism and to introduce real-time variable pricing,[4] Singapore's Land Transport Authority, together with IBM, ran a pilot from December 2006 to April 2007, with a traffic estimation and prediction tool (TrEPS), which uses historical traffic data and real-time feeds with flow conditions from several sources, to predict the levels of congestion up to an hour in advance. By accurate estimating prevailing and emerging traffic conditions, this technology is expected to allow variable pricing, together with improved overall traffic management, including the provision of information in advance to alert drivers about conditions ahead, and the prices being charged at that moment.[5]

This new system integrates with the various LTA's traffic management existing systems, such as the Green Link Determining System (GLIDE), TrafficScan, Expressway Monitoring Advisory System (EMAS), Junction Electronic Eyes (J-Eyes),[6] and the Electronic Road Pricing system. The pilot results were successful, showing overall prediction results above 85 percent of accuracy. Furthermore, when more data was available, during peak hours, average accuracy raised near or above 90 percent from 10 minutes up to 60 minutes predictions in the future.[7]

The Land Transport Authority is also considering Global Navigation Satellite System as a technological option for a second generation ERP. LTA objective is to explore if the latest technologies available in the market today are accurate and effective enough for use as a congestion charging tool, especially taking into consideration the dense urban environment in Singapore. Implementation of such system is not expected in the short term.[8]

List of gantries[edit]

  • Ayer Rajah Expressway: 5
  • Bukit Timah Expressway: 1
  • Central Expressway: 8
  • CBD: 26
  • Dunearn Road: 2
  • East Coast Parkway: 2
  • Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway: 1
  • Marina Coastal Expressway: 5
  • Orchard: 12
  • Others: 1
  • Outer Ring Road System: 6
  • Pan Island Expressway: 8

In total, there are 77 ERP gantries in Singapore.

Similar systems in other metropolitan areas[edit]

In Toronto, Ontario, Canada an electronic road pricing system is used on Highway 407 to collect tolls electronically and billed to the owner of the car by taking a picture of its license plate.[9]

The ERP system attracted the attention of transport planners and managers in other metropolitan areas, particularly those in Europe and the United States. For example, the London Congestion Charge was introduced on 17 February 2003, after London officials visited Singapore to study the ERP system, and used it as a reference for the London system. London's charge area was expanded in 2007.[10]

The Stockholm congestion tax is also a congestion pricing system implemented as a tax which is levied on most vehicles entering and exiting central Stockholm, Sweden.[11] The congestion tax was implemented on a permanent basis on 1 August 2007,[12][13] after a seven-month trial period was held between 3 January 2006 and 31 July 2006.[14]

In 2007, Dubai, at the United Arab Emirates, implemented a corridor congestion pricing scheme called Salik which works on similar principles. Since January 2008, Milan introduced a traffic charge scheme as a one-year trial, called Ecopass, and exempts high emission standard vehicles and some alternate fuel vehicles.[15][16][17]

In other cities, similar systems have failed to see the green light for various reasons. For example, Hong Kong first conducted a pilot test on its Electronic Road Pricing system between 1983 and 1985 with positive results. However, public opposition against the move stalled its implementation. New studies conducted in the 1990s and the opposition towards further reclamation of the Victoria Harbour recently has led to advocates of the ERP as a possible alternative for road management.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Electronic Road Pricing. Land Transport Authority (Singapore)
  2. ^ [1]. G Santo. (2005) Urban congestion charging: A comparison between London and Singapore
  3. ^ Cervero, Robert (1998). The Transit Metropolis. Island Press, Washington, D.C. p. 169. ISBN 1-55963-591-6. Chapter 6/The Master Planned Transit Metropolis: Singapore. 
  4. ^ Ken Belson (16 March 2008). "Importing a Decongestant for Midtown Streets". New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  5. ^ "Predicting Where The Traffic Will Flow". PLANETIZEN. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  6. ^ eMonitoring. "Intelligent Transport Systems". Transport Land Authority. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  7. ^ "IBM and Singapore's Land Transport Authority Pilot Innovative Traffic Prediction Tool". IBM Press release. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  8. ^ Channel NewsAsia (10 June 2010). "Satellite navigation ERP and electric cars possible on future road system". CNA. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  9. ^ 407 Express Toll Route. Retrieved on 1 July 2008.
  10. ^ Simon Jeffery and Sarah Phillips (7 August 2006). "Q&A: The congestion charge". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 26 May 2007. 
  11. ^ "Congestion tax in Stockholm from 1 August". Swedish Road Administration. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "Trängselskatt i Stockholm". Swedish Road Administration. Retrieved 1 August 2007. 
  13. ^ "Odramatisk start för biltullarna". Dagens Nyheter. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Stockholmsförsöket". Stockholmsförsöket. Retrieved 18 July 2007. 
  15. ^ Toll Discounts for Going Green, The New York Times, 27 January 2008
  16. ^ Milan introduces traffic charge. BBC News (2 January 2008). Retrieved on 12 June 2012.
  17. ^ Milan Introduces Congestion Charge To Cut Pollution. Nysun.com (3 January 2008). Retrieved on 12 June 2012.

External links[edit]