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Soon, you'll be billed even when you drive out of the car park! Tongue

May 25, 2011
Trial run soon for new ERP system

Four parties picked for tests likely to involve use of satellite tracking
By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent

THOSE iconic blue-and-white gantries standing astride major roads and expressways for electronic road pricing (ERP) could well be history in the near future.

Four parties have been picked to run a trial for a next-generation ERP system, one likely to use satellite tracking.

The four are Kapsch TrafficCom; MHI Engine System Asia & NCS; ST Electronics (Info-Comm Systems) & IBM Singapore; and Watchdata Technologies & Beijing Watchdata System.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said each will receive $1 million in seed funding 'to design, develop and demonstrate technological solutions' for the new system, which could charge motorists not only according to where they go, but also for the distances they clock.

The trial starts next month and will last 11/2 years, a timeframe that will include 'live' on-the-road testing to prove the robustness of the system.

Experts say the main challenge of a satellite-tracked ERP system lies in its patchy accuracy. Densely built-up areas can create what are known as 'urban canyons', where satellite signals bounce off tall buildings, distorting readings.

In an early trial done in 2007, LTA found the accuracy of satellite tracking in open areas such as highways to be above 90 per cent; in the city centre, it dipped to only about 30 per cent.

But technology has since improved. Signal beacons can be erected on curbs or buildings to overcome the pitfalls of satellite tracking in city areas.

The Straits Times understands the new system will also call for an intelligent in-vehicle unit (IU). Observers reckon it should be one that can notify drivers if they are approaching a road where a charge is to be levied; it might also run other applications, such as maps, navigation and voice alerts.

A source close to the trial added: 'The unit will have a proprietary security algorithm that makes it tamper-proof.'

If all goes well, a tender is likely to be called to award the contract to build the system, possibly in late 2013 or early 2014, sources say. The contract could be worth around $400 million, twice what the current ERP system cost when it was launched in 1998.

At the earliest, the system will be up and running in 2015 or 2016, but the LTA refused to be pinned down to a date.

It said: 'The development of this project is in its very early stages. The next-generation ERP system, if technically feasible, is still some years away before it is ready to be implemented.'

Transport researcher Lee Der Horng of the National University of Singapore said the new system 'is very powerful as it can be islandwide, and allows ERP to be implemented much more aggressively'.

The upside is that road tax could be replaced by this usage-based system, he said. But a downside could lie in the implications of distance-based charges for vehicles other than private motorists - public buses, for instance, which ply fixed routes and clock long distances.

He said: 'I hope the Government will take this opportunity to review the need for this new ERP system. We cannot depend on ERP alone to solve all our congestion problems.'

Singapore's ERP system one of world's most innovative infrastructure: KPMG report
Published on Dec 1, 2014 3:50 PM

Vehicles heading towards the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry at Havelock Road. The Republic was named one of the world's least congested major cities, thanks to its ERP system. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

By Lee Min Kok

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system has been lauded as one of the world's most innovative infrastructure developments.

In a report released by auditing firm KPMG International on Monday, the Republic was named "one of the least congested major cities in the world", despite a growing urban population and limited physical space.

Key to this achievement, according to the Infrastructure 100: World Markets report, has been the ERP's ability to "maximise the capacity of the road network", which is controlled in real time from an operations centre.

It noted that average car speeds on local roads were much faster at 27kmh, compared to other cities such as London (16kmh) and Tokyo (11kmh).

To view the full report, click here.