24 Dec 2014

SG50 Icons of Singapore #5 – ERP

this is a summary


ERP - the building every Singaporean loves to hate and hates to love.

While ERP officially stands for Electronic Road Pricing, it has been described by us Singaporeans as:

‘Every Road Pay’

‘Everytime/Eternally raise price’

‘Everyday Rob People’

‘Exorbitant Road Pricing’ among others.

An icon that every Singaporean hates to love, and love to hate, the ERP gantry was first constructed in 1998, and was considered revolutionary at its time.

Did you know that Singapore was the first city in the world to implement an electronic road toll collection system for the sole purpose of reducing congestion?

Perhaps not much more introduction needs to be given here, the double beeps when a car goes through a gantry remains one of the most painful sounds a Singaporean can hear.

It has even become a bit of a running joke the past few years that even when you hear of trains and buses breaking down every few days, the ERP gantry has never had the same problem.

That being said, not all ERP gantries serve to collect money from you. In the various Singapore Day held overseas, Singaporeans are actually rewarded with food and other goodies from home to when you go through it!

Perhaps they wouldn’t be smiling so broadly if they knew that $5 had actually been deducted from their cash card

 Perhaps they wouldn’t be smiling so broadly if they knew that $5 had actually been deducted from their cash card

We currently have 77 ERP gantries in force (I had to manually count them one by one after not being able to find any website detailing that), and the rates are reviewed every quarterly to reflect changing peak road conditions, as well as to take into account school and public holidays.

While Singaporeans do complain about ERP, research has shown that roads do get less traffic after the gantries are erected, though there is public perception that gantries are soon going to be erected all over the country.

It comes as a bit of an irony that is exactly what’s going to happen. Just recently the Land Transport Authority has announced the implementing of a navigation satellite based system for road pricing in Singapore as the gantries are becoming more pricy and difficult to maintain. They hope to have it up in 2020, which will mean the end of ERP and the gantries as we know it.

The good news is, now every road user on congested roads will now be equally charged, and congestion will hopefully be reduced even further. A host of other services are also expected to be implemented when the In-Vehicle Unit (IU) is replaced with an “interactive and intelligent” On-Board Unit like real-time traffic information tailored to location and electronic payment for parking.

When that happens, I think all of us will start to miss the ERP gantry all over again. But until then, this icon remains one of the buildings in Singapore that generates more than a little discomfort when the double beeps are heard.

I leave you with a prediction of what mrbrown said in his podcast way back in 2007. There, he envisions that the government will give every family a car. The kicker however, is that you will be charged for every action you take (including accelerating and braking).

For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that never happens!


By Aaron Peng


Aaron is currently taking a post-graduate law degree in the University of Tasmania in Australia. He spends his time capturing Tasmania's untouched beauty with his lenses, blogging and sharing cute cat photos on Facebook amidst juggling his law school assignments. Prior to his studies in Australia, Aaron worked as a paralegal and will continue to do so during his summer holidays in Singapore. He aspires to become a motivational speaker for youths. 



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