The ERP System

June 20, 2008

Here comes the depressing news. With effect from 07/07/2008, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), in conjunction with the Singapore government, is attempting to further burn deeper holes out of the pockets of local motorists. Escalating fuel costs aside, motorists now have to contend with both higher ERP rates AND new ERP gantries around the city centre.

For the benefit of Singaporeans who have been living in a slumber, as well as for our overseas counterparts who may find it bewildering why complaints about Singapore’s road and transportation system have been rife lately, the ERP stands out Electronic Road Pricing, designed to keep Extremely Rude People who road-hogs off the roads so as to regulate traffic during peak hours.

Sounds good? Perhaps, but the question remains whether the ERP is actually suffice in fulfilling its role in controlling traffic. Statistics from the Straits Times have shown that average speeds along North Bridge Road and South Bridge Road have dropped from about 25km/h in 2002 to 19km/h last month during peak hours of 6pm to 8pm.

So, will the latest review of ERP rates actually work?

Considering the fact that Singaporeans (as well as many people around the world) suffer from this innate disorder known otherwise as the complain-about-new-system-yet-still-revert-to-the-old-ways-because-it’s-after-all-the-way-of-life-so-what-if-it’s-pricier syndrome (for a case in point, look at the nil impact on passenger frequency despite the hike in taxi fares a few months ago), this will probably end up a red herring.

In addition, this does not seem to go along well with the government’s efforts to promote healthier family lifestyles. Picture a car owner (with a family) who drives to work. In a bid to escape ERP charges, said car owner decides to work overtime (earning more money simultaneously) and settle his dinner in the vicnity, before driving home after the ERP operations cease at 8pm. As if this shall go a long way in boosting the floundering birth rates of the nation. Of course, said car owner may decide to leave his vehicle in the car park and use the public transport instead, but he’ll end up having to squeeze his way home on the MRT. Despite the LTA’s promised increase in frequency of the trains, they’re still as packed as sardines during peak hours. So why forego the comfort of one’s own car for public transport if one can still afford it?

Nonetheless, all the ERP brouhaha has resulted in several pictorial spoofs attempting to make a mockery of the entire system:

Singapore 2010 - An ERP Spoof

Image credited to

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