LTA first implemented the Electronic Road Pricing system back in September of 1998 as a means of curbing increasing traffic in the city area. Ok, if I pretended to be a little naive, I could almost believe that they were genuinely implementing the system to aid in traffic flow. The revenue generating aspect of the system was just a fringe benefit.
That was 12 years ago. Some how I get the feeling that the ERP has slowly shifted into its primary purpose over the years. These days, it's more of a revenue generating instrument for the government than a traffic regulating system.
Why do I say that? Well, while I was on my way home last night from Suntec, I took the Northbound CTE towards Ang Mo Kio to get home. At the time when I spotted the ERP gantry (the one between PIE and Braddell exit), it was already 9:30pm. It was quite ridiculous to me that the gantry's 'In Operation' sign was still on and it was stated that it'll be on till 10pm.
What I don't get is, after a whole day of charging people for going into the city area, is it really necessary to charge them a second time on the way out as well? No matter what LTA says, they're just fattening up their coffers. Even if the intention was to regulate traffic leaving town, is it necessary to keep the ERP on till 10pm? Seriously?
That's not the only example. On 7 April 2008, LTA began operating their shiny new gantry at the entrance to the Toa Payoh residential estate. It is located right smack at the entrance with no escape for anyone coming off Braddell Road. Now, why would you need to put a gantry at the entrance to a residential area? To 'regulate' traffic? I don't think so. Why else would they plant one of those gantries at a residential area then? Well, I'll leave that to your imagination. What's next? Place a gantry at the lift lobby of every HDB?
Have you ever wondered why the ERP was so easily implemented upon the local people? When Hong Kong tried to implement the same system, the territory's inhabitants vehemently opposed it. The government had no choice but to back down and were forced to shelve the plans.
Unfortunately, unlike the people in the territory, the docility of our population is unmatched anywhere else. When the government introduces a policy that the population doesn't agree with, we'll just grumble. Like MM Lee once said in an interview, "Singaporeans are champion grumblers". But that's about all we do.
Due to that, the ERP system will only grow more numerous with time. Until there's a cohesive effort to object the placement of more gantries, all we can do is grumble. Lest the government invokes the Internal Security Act. Sigh...
Here's a glimpse into the future that awaits us...a future that isn't too far from reality at all...
This picture here takes the cake...hahaha