Electronic Road Pricing system
The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system is an initiative by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in which toll charges are levied on vehicles according to time and congestion levels. With this system of charging, a motorist can decide on the time, destination and route of his journey. LTA would also be able to monitor heavily congested highways and increase charges with the aim of reducing traffic.1
The ERP system replaces the Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) and Road Pricing Scheme (RPS) with radio communication equipment, sensors and cameras.2 Every vehicle is fitted with an in-vehicle unit (IU), which is detected by antennae on gantries as the vehicle approaches ERP zones. Tolls are deducted automatically from a smart card (known as CashCard) slotted into the IU. The IU is fitted on the handlebars of motorcycles and at the bottom right-hand corner of the inside windscreen for other vehicles.3
ERP was activated on 1 April 1998. The LTA implemented ERP first by automating the two RPS points on the East Coast Parkway (ECP) – one near Fort Road, and the other on the Ophir Road upramp to the ECP. Next to be automated were the RPS points at the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and Central Expressway (CTE), and all ALS points. This completed Phase I of the ERP project. The system was subsequently extended to choke-points on other expressways and major arterial roads over the next couple of years.4
In February 2016, LTA awarded a tender to a consortium comprising NCS and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engine System Asia for the development of a new satellite-based ERP system. Development of the new system will begin from the second quarter of 2016 and is expected to be implemented by 2020.5
1975: ALS introduced to manage congestion in the Central Business District (CBD).
1985: Government officials study electronic road pricing trial in Hong Kong, and recommends that it is technically feasible but technology is still evolving.
Jul 1989: Cabinet gives ERP the green light; system expected to be ready in five years.
Sep 1989: Tenders invited for ERP project.
Feb 1990: Team comprising representatives from Public Works Department (PWD), SingTel and National Computer Board studies toll systems in Seattle, Dallas, New Orleans and Washington, DC, in the United States.
Mar 1990: High-level transport panel formed. Panel head, First Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, says system should be up in four years at the earliest.
Apr 1990: Team studies electronic toll systems in Paris, Florence, Trondheim and Oslo in Europe.
May 1990: PWD indicates that ERP would be ready in 1992.
Apr 1991: Five contractors shortlisted for ERP system.
May 1991: Government calls for re-tender of ERP system. Problems from first tenders include whether systems can detect cars at high speeds in three or four lanes. ERP to start in the CBD in 1996.
Sep 1991: Government decides on smart-card system, and to use active rather than passive system.
Oct 1991: Prequalification tenders called; 17 groups submit proposals.
Feb 1992: 10 out of 17 groups shortlisted.
Jul 1992: Five consortiums shortlisted.
Aug 1992: Government says interim road pricing to be introduced. Manual pricing to be used until ERP system is ready.
Apr 1993: Tenders narrowed to three contending parties. Each given till April 1994 to get ready for road tests in Tuas.
May 1993: Cashcard launched in pilot project and expected to be introduced islandwide in 1995.
Nov 1994: Optical character recognition to be included to allow automatic identification of offenders’ licence plates by computers. Tender modified to accommodate this.
Mar 1995: Final bidding for ERP system. General Electric Company-Marconi consortium enters lowest bid of S$185 million. Philips-led group bids S$197 million, and Teledata group bids S$408 million.
May 1995: New tests conducted and system to include a more user-friendly IU.
Jun 1995: Road pricing starts on ECP. Motorists buy paper licences to enter the expressway.
Oct 1995: ERP tender goes to Philips Singapore group, with members Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Miyoshi Electronics and CEI Systems & Engineering, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies. Bid was S$197 million, plus maintenance for five years for another S$39 million. The bid was the second-lowest but the group had the lowest error rate.
1996: Bidding for IU and gantry installation.
1997: More tests for the Philips ERP system, on an unopened stretch of Seletar Expressway.
Jul 1997: Road tax structure revamped to impose more charges for using roads, rather than owning cars.
Sep 1997: Installation of IUs starts. Targeted to fit the devices in 680,000 vehicles within 10 months. ERP gantries begin to go up progressively. First one installed across the stretch of Ophir Road leading to ECP on 8 September.
Apr 1998: ERP starts on ECP.
Aug 1998: ERP starts on CTE.
Sep 1998: ERP starts on PIE and in CBD areas.
1. “First ERP Gantry Installed Across Ophir Road,” Straits Times, 9 September 1997, 40. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “First ERP Gantry Installed.”
3. Leong Chan Teik, “ERP’s Starting Soon: Here’s How It Will Work,” Straits Times, 1 September 1997, 33. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “First ERP Gantry Installed.”
5. J. Ong and O. Siong, “Satellite-Based ERP to Be Ready By 2020, with S$556M Contract Awarded,” Channel NewsAsia, 25 February 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
6. “Chronology: The Road to ERP,” Straits Times, 30 August 1998, 32. (From NewspaperSG)
“ECP Traffic Smoother after Road Widening,” Straits Times, 7 November 1997, 40. (From NewspaperSG)
Leong Chan Teik and Siti Andriani, “400 Vehicles Fitted with ERP Gadget on First Installation Day,” Straits Times, 16 September 1997, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
“Page 7 Advertisements Column 1,” Straits Times, 16 November 1997, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as of 2016 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.