Electronic Road Pricing: Developments after phase I
by Chew, Valerie
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system in April 1998 as a new way to manage traffic congestion. Phase I was completed in September 1998 with the activation of ERP for East Coast Parkway (ECP), Central Expressway (CTE), Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and the city area. The number of ERP gantries in operation has since increased to 71, up from 33 at the end of 1998.1 Improvements have also been made to the scheme since it was first introduced, including credit card payment of ERP charges and graduated fee pricing.2
Expansion of ERP Coverage
Since 1998, more expressways have been covered under the ERP system. These are the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE), Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) and Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE).3 The ERP network has also extended to arterial roads outside the city in response to the heavy city-bound traffic on these roads. The first few roads to come under the ERP umbrella are Thomson Road, Bendemeer Road and Kallang Road.4
In 2005, ERP was used for the first time to manage the congestion caused by motorists heading back to their suburban homes after work. A new gantry that operated only in the evenings was installed on the north-bound CTE.5 Since 2005, evening ERP has been applicable for the ECP, MCE, AYE and the central business district (CBD) to target the evening peak hour traffic.6
Graduated fee pricing
After observing that motorists often sped up just before the start of a time period with higher ERP rates, or slowed down just before lower rates kicked in, LTA introduced a graduated fee pricing in 2003. The objective was to reduce the incentive for such behaviour by moderating the sharp changes in rates between two successive time periods. This was done by implementing five-minute buffer periods during which the ERP rate would be midway between the rates of the two successive periods.7
85th-percentile speed measurement method
Every quarter, LTA reviews the traffic conditions on roads where the ERP system is in operation. After the review, it adjusts the rates where necessary so as to achieve optimal traffic flow on these roads.8 It also monitors other roads closely to identify new locations where congestion levels warrant ERP. When LTA first introduced the system, it said that ERP would be activated or the charges at existing gantries would be raised when average speeds fell below the threshold levels of 45 kmh for expressways and 20 kmh for arterial roads. However, the use of average speeds to determine when ERP rate changes were needed could create "stop-start" conditions on the roads easily. Thus, since July 2008, LTA has used the 85th percentile speed method to measure actual traffic conditions. With this, “motorists will be assured of smooth travel on ERP-priced roads at least 85 percent of the time”.9
Orchard Road cordon
As the Orchard Road area is primarily a shopping destination, its traffic pattern differs from that of the rest of the city centre. The road experiences heavier traffic later in the day, after the retail outlets have opened. To better reflect and manage the traffic conditions of this area, the ERP rates here have been set separately from those for other parts of the CBD since October 2005. To make this possible, LTA first demarcated the Orchard Road cordon, then sealed it off by adding new gantries. Unlike for the rest of the CBD, there is currently no ERP for the Orchard Road cordon on weekday mornings.10
Improved in-vehicle unit
LTA has introduced a second-generation in-vehicle unit (IU) that offers several improvements over the old model. For example, the new IU can accept both contact and contactless stored-value cards, whereas the previous model accepted only contact cards, specifically the NETS CashCard. Another new feature is that it can automatically top up a card that registers insufficient funds when the vehicle passes through an ERP gantry. The improved IU was rolled out to new motorcycles and installed in all other new vehicles from 2009 onwards. Owners of existing vehicles can purchase the new device or continue to use the earlier model.11
From 2008, cardless ERP payment systems, such as EZ-Pay, MotorPay and vCashCard, were introduced to allow motorists to pass through ERP gantries without a CashCard in their IU. With these systems, all the charges are billed to a registered credit card.12
Sep 1999: ERP extended to AYE and arterial roads outside the city.
Feb 2003: Graduated fee pricing introduced.
Sep 2003: New scheme launched for foreign-registered cars to give added convenience to foreign travellers – instead of installing or renting an IU, motorists can opt to pay a fixed daily ERP fee.13
Aug 2005: Evening ERP introduced for home-bound traffic leaving the city.
Oct 2005: Separate ERP cordon for Orchard Road area is implemented.
Oct 2007: KPE partially opened, with one new ERP gantry activated at the south-bound KPE exit into west-bound ECP.14
Nov 2007: ERP kicks in on BKE.15
Mar 2008: Government announces that new signboards, known as the Rates Variable Message System, will be installed at the top of gantries to prominently display the prevailing charges for various vehicle types. This is an improvement over the existing roadside panels, which motorists sometimes find too difficult to read.16
Jul 2008: Singapore River Line is activated, comprising five new gantries along the Singapore River, to reduce evening through-traffic. LTA also implements the 85th-percentile speed measurement method.17
Aug 2008: Installation of next-generation IUs on new motorcycles commences.
Sep 2008: KPE is fully opened, with a total of 16 ERP gantries installed, the largest number of gantries on a single road. However, the gantries would only be activated when congestion builds up and travel speeds fall below 45kmh.18
Nov 2008: New scheme introduced to allow ERP charges incurred by motorists to be billed to their credit cards, as an alternative to having the charges deducted from the CashCard in the IU.
1. Kaur, K. (1999, April 21). ERP to be extended in September. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Land Transport Authority. (2016). ERP rates and gantries. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from MyTransport.sg website: https://www.mytransport.sg/content/mytransport/home/myconcierge/erprates.html
2. Kaur, K. (2003, January 29). ERP discount to end gantry waiting game. The Straits Times, p. 3; Almenoar, M. (2008, October 25). Credit cards can be used for ERP. The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Land Transport Authority. (2016). ERP rates and gantries. Retrieved from 2017, January 31 MyTransport.sg website: https://www.mytransport.sg/content/mytransport/home/myconcierge/erprates.html
4. Kaur, K. (1999, April 21). ERP to be extended in September. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Tan C., & Goh, C. L. (2005, May 28). ERP cordon in Orchard Road. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Land Transport Authority. (2016). ERP rates and gantries. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from MyTransport.sg website: https://www.mytransport.sg/content/mytransport/home/myconcierge/erprates.html
7. Menon, G., & Chin, K. K. (2004, February). ERP in Singapore – What’s been learnt from five years of operation. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from TEC Global Research Hub website: https://www.trafficresearch.co.uk/ERP-in-Singapore--whats-been-learnt-from-five-years-of-operation/32893
8. Menon, G., & Chin, K. K. (2004, February). ERP in Singapore – What’s been learnt from five years of operation. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from TEC Global Research Hub website: https://www.trafficresearch.co.uk/ERP-in-Singapore--whats-been-learnt-from-five-years-of-operation/32893
9. Land Transport Authority. (2008, June 18). Five New ERP Gantries and New ERP Criteria to Apply to the Central Business District from 7 July. Retrieved from Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=1948; Ministry of Transport. (2017, December 11). ERP. Retrieved from Ministry of Transport website: https://www.mot.gov.sg/about-mot/land-transport/motoring/erp; Almenoar, M. (2008, June 18). Higher ERP rates and new gantries from July 7. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Orchard Rd ERP rates will be different. (2005, September 29). Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, C. (2008, July 15). New IU promises smoother ERP rides. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Almenoar, M. (2008, October 25). Credit cards can be used for ERP. The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; EZ- Pay removes hassle of topping up Cashcard. (2016, August 17). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
13. Drivers of foreign cars can opt for fixed ERP. (2003, August 29). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Leow, V. (2007, August 24). Singapore’s new highway. The Straits Times, p. 50. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Ee, S. (2007, August 24). ERP to cover three more stretches of expressway. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Almenoar, M. (2008, March 7). ERP gantries to flash charges by year-end. The Straits Times, p. 68. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Almenoar, M. (2008, June 18). Higher ERP rates and new gantries from July 7. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Almenoar, M., & Yeo, G. L. (2008, September 20). Relief at last, as KPE opens. The Straits Times, p. 95; Tan, H.L. (2008, August 28). 16 gantries on KPE for safety. Today, p. 12; Ng, D., & Chan, K. (2008, September 20). KPE by numbers. The New Paper, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; New ERP gantry to be activated, revised ERP rates from May 8. (2017, April 28). Today. Retrieved from Today website: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/new-erp-gantry-be-activated-revised-erp-rates-may-8
Almenoar, M. (2008, May 12). ERP cuts traffic while keeping Orchard buzz. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Almenoar, M. (2008, September 27). Only 1 of 6 planned ERP gantries to be built. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Do, M. A., & Ong, J. T. (1998). Evaluation of an electronic road pricing system designed for the Singapore multi-lane road environment. In International Conference on Transportation Into the Next Millennium: Proceedings, 9-11 September 1998. Singapore: Centre for Transportation Studies, Nanyang Technological University, pp. 201–210. (Call no.: RSING q388.114 INT)
Leong, W. K. (2007, October 30). ERP: New gantries, rates next week. Today, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Menon, A. P. G., & Chin, K. K. (1998). The making of Singapore’s electronic road pricing system. In International Conference on Transportation Into the Next Millennium: Proceedings, 9-11 September 1998. Singapore: Centre for Transportation Studies, Nanyang Technological University, pp. 179–180. (Call no.: RSING q388.114 INT)
Yamamoto, M., et al. (1998). Multi-lane electronic road pricing system in Singapore. In International Conference on Transportation Into the Next Millennium: Proceedings, 9-11 September 1998. Singapore: Centre for Transportation Studies, Nanyang Technological University, pp. 191–200. (Call no.: RSING q388.114 INT)
The information in this article is valid as at 2019 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Law and government>>Safety administration>>Land transportation
Urban transportation policy--Singapore
Electronic Road Pricing System--Singapore
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation