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Heavenly Road Pricing

By Faiming_low on 13 Jul 2014

Attached Image At long last, after more than a decade of discussion, tests and trials, GPS (global positioning system) satellite-tracked ERP (electronic road pricing) is deemed to be technically feasible here. This makes Singapore the fi rst country in the world to fi nd an “eye-in-the-sky” solution to “pricing” the multitude of vehicles that zip through its thick urban jungle of high-rise buildings and capillary network of roads.
All others have failed – or at least, none have arrived at an accuracy level that is acceptable, or devised a model that is cost effective. Germany is about the only place where GPS satellite technology is used for road tolls, but that is isolated to heavy trucks on its autobahns.
Even though GPS technology has been around for decades, with onboard navigation now as commonplace as Bluetooth connectivity, a pricing application is a different ball game. The main hurdle has been the “canyon effect” posed by a city’s dense conglomerate of tall structures, which can muddle up signals and lead to incorrect pricing.
Considering Singapore’s low tolerance for errors, the conclusion that satellite ERP is now feasible is a remarkable milestone. The development will not only allow us to dismantle the 70-plus ugly blue-and-white gantries that dot our cityscape, it will also allow us access to a host of urban transport solutions that are currently manual and inefficient.
These include coupon-less street parking, flexible tariffs for Off-Peak Car  usage, recovery of stolen vehicles, and “live” traffi c information feeding an intelligent navigation system (perhaps one that tells you the cost and time of a choice of routes). In fact, such a technology can also be adapted to enforce the law in illegal parking, “catch” certain traffi c violations, and even determine motor insurance premiums, which are adjusted according to the way you drive (i.e. the risk factor).
But satellite ERP’s main purpose is more effi cient road pricing, with its killer application being distance-based charging. This is where the Singapore leadership gets to put its political will to the test again.Will the government be bold enough to implement charging-by-distance-driven? Or will satellite ERP be yet another high-tech toy for Land Transport Authority engineers to “play” with?
Already, we seem to be witnessing a reluctance to use the gantry-based system to control congestion. The maximum Cashcard deduction of $5 is negligible compared to the depreciation rate of an everyday car (about $30 per day). The preference has been to use upfront measures to keep our roads relatively clear, such as the vehicle quota system and punitive registration taxes.
Upfront expenses, once paid, are forgotten, but a beeping in-vehicle unit (IU) is a daily and unpopular reminder. Which is probably why we often see owners of $400,000 limousines stopping by the road shoulder to wait out the remaining minutes of an ERP period. Or for that matter, those who park illegally because they loathe using a 50-cent parking coupon.
So, a distance-based congestion pricing system that charges, say, 50 cents or one dollar per kilometre, could be even more unpopular with these people. They also won’t have the opportunity to park illegally or park without paying any more.
It would be a shame if the capability of the second-generation ERP system isn’t fully exploited. It would be like buying a Ferrari, only to use it for grocery runs.
This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.  

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Written by Faiming_low
Since young, Fai Ming has always centered his life around cars. In fact his first word was 'car' and not 'mum' or 'dad'. Aren't kids cute?

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Fastfive1 Jul 14 2014 12:11 AM

no one gonna comment?

Eyke Jul 14 2014 10:21 AM

there was at least one comment...but it got deleted for some reason  :D

LiuDeHua Jul 14 2014 11:55 AM

We can't have the best of everything. Everybody wants cheap car ownership, cheap car usage, and smooth traffic. 


Till the day cars can fly, the above 3 won't co-exist together in SG. So I say we increase cost of car usage. At least we will get 2 out of the 3. 

Fett Jul 14 2014 02:47 PM

I think car prices should just go the way it was, to a point where everybody gets fed up to drive cos everywhere is so congested, and then every1 will just take taxi when going to town or more congested areas.

Knoobie Jul 14 2014 03:52 PM

Lets just face it. If it ever was an more economical choice. It will never be pushed out here.

Ezfaun Jul 14 2014 05:56 PM

50c or $1 per km? Then I'd have to pay $12.5k or $25k a year non-inclusive of road tax. What the hell? More expensive than COE liao. Pls.. Don't give our scholars anymore ideas lah...

Fastfive1 Jul 14 2014 10:35 PM

there was at least one comment...but it got deleted for some reason   :D


Yup, That was my comment. Clearly there is quite a bit of censorship here.


I'll be less crude. In short, Chris Tan is trying to instigate something. Come to think of it, he always does.


This proposal of his is one where it infringes on the privacy of its people. I mean come on, do you really want the government to know where you go? I can't imagine a guy being a frequent visitor to geylang having his whereabouts being recorded. Or what about those people who go to JB to pump petrol? They probably would give up because of this proposal. Perhaps he hasn't considered that his own privacy will be compromised as well. 


It's amazing how a person of his calibre can become an editor for torque. I think they picked the wrong dude.

Hydrocarbon Jul 15 2014 12:34 AM

@Fastfive1, I saw your original comment. I agree with the gist of your comment / idea, if not exactly the anger with which you put it forth.


And I think that the censorship is overboard.

The satellite type ERP will be very unpopular to implement. It reeks of state control over more and more parts of our lives.

Ryanyusoff Jul 15 2014 12:45 PM

basket..i had enough of our ISPs blocking so many sites,now want gahmen to see where i go?no way,jose.

Dice Jul 16 2014 03:36 PM

if ERP had worked, we would have smoother roads already... no need to put a bird in the sky to do this. 

Heartbreakid Jul 16 2014 10:36 PM

Heavenly? IT's like everybody driving a taxi, just that we are paying ourselves for the distance covered. What a boot-licker this writer is.

Fastfive1 Jul 18 2014 03:41 AM

Heavenly? IT's like everybody driving a taxi, just that we are paying ourselves for the distance covered. What a boot-licker this writer is.


Not just boot licking maybe even sucking the weiner of someone high up. 

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