Singapore’s electronic road pricing system to start in 2023 but no distance-based charging yet

Woodlands North station would be connected to Johor Baru by the Rapid Transit System Link. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SINGAPORE, Sep 8, 2020, ST. Singapore will switch to a satellite-based Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system in the middle of 2023, but plans to charge motorists for the distances they clock will be on hold, The Straits Times reported.

The Land Transport Authority said on Tuesday (Sept 8) that installation of a new onboard unit (OBU) to replace the current in-vehicle unit will start in the latter half of next year. The initial unit will be free of charge.

The authority had previously said installation of the OBU would start by end of this year. Because the Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on global supply chains, the exercise will commence in the second half of 2021, and take place over 18 months.

Following that, the new ERP system will switch on in mid-2023. But the LTA said the existing cordon-based congestion pricing framework will remain; and ERP charging locations will also be clearly indicated on “smaller and slimmer gantries”.

In this year’s Budget, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the technology for distance-based charging “is still several years away”.

The new ERP system will have more features than the current one.

Besides providing information on ERP charging locations and rates, the OBU will provide information such as real-time road traffic updates as well as locations of nearby School Zones and Silver Zones, the LTA said.

The new ERP system will replace the current 22-year-old system, which the authority said was “reaching the end of its operational life”.

The new OBU will have two designs – a one-piece unit for motorcycles; and for other vehicles, a three-piece unit comprising an antenna, a touchscreen display to be mounted on the windscreen and a processing unit which can be mounted beneath the dashboard.

The new OBU is compatible with the current ERP systems and carparks. Motorists can continue to use Nets FlashPay and ez-link cards, or credit or debit cards, to make payment.

The LTA said the privacy of motorists will be safeguarded.

“LTA will only use anonymised or aggregated data for traffic management and transport planning purposes,” it said. “Vehicle-specific data will be used only for payment, charges and enforcement, such as against non-payment of ERP charges.”

It added that to prevent unauthorised access and improper use of the data, there will be robust security and strict safeguards in place, including penalties for infringement.

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