By Leong Sze Hian
Lower ERP for taxis?
I refer to the article “LTA mulls lowering ERP rates for cabs” (Straits Times, Dec 28).
It states that “After years of lobbying from taxi drivers, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is seriously considering cutting ERP rates for cabs.
The LTA said yesterday it was “looking into the feasibility” of a lower electronic road pricing (ERP) rate or a discounted monthly pass for them.
The National Taxi Association (NTA), which represents more than 13,000 cabbies here, believes such concessions would encourage more taxi drivers to head into the city.
Cabbies have long cited the cost of ERP as a key factor keeping them out of the area, which in turn makes it harder for commuters to get a cab in town.”
Make money or facilitate transport?
I shall not mince my words – I think the LTA may need to (“seriously”) get its head examined – to relook its priorities. Is it in the business primarily of making money or to facilitate transport?
COE, ERP for taxis and public buses?
Is there any country in the world which charges COE and ERP for taxis, which are a form of public transport?
Why is it that even public buses as I understand also have to pay ERP?
CBD is congested at the taxi stands, not the roads?
As to “The Straits Times understands the LTA is studying if it can provide concessions for cabbies without losing the original intent of congestion charging”
– Since the LTA is in a sense, conceding finally that the problems caused by the taxis’ ERP in the CBD may far outweigh the merits of reducing congestion – why does it not do away with charging altogether instead of having to still be mulling over whether to reduce or have a monthly pass for cabbies?
I also find the rationale for COE and ERP for taxis to be puzzling. Even though I disagree with the need to have COE for taxis – why do we consider taxis as adding to congestion? If taxis are unreliable, then you may be pushing people to use private transport which may lead to even more congestion.
Higher costs passed on to commuters, businesses, consumers?
The costs of COE and ERP for taxis, and ERP for public buses may only add to the costs of commuting for the general public, business costs, higher prices, inflation, higher costs and lower earnings for taxi drivers, etc
Increase relief drivers also not allowed?
With regard to “However, he shot down a suggestion to increase the pool of active relief drivers by ruling that new taxi vocational licence-holders must serve as back-up cabbies for a period of time.
He said the LTA should not be “prescriptive” over how taxi companies recruit and manage drivers. Instead, the NTA should work with taxi firms to consider such practices, he suggested.
The association believes having more relief drivers will make it easier for cabbies to meet the LTA’s availability standards”
– this may be even more puzzling.
Why is the LTA putting obstacles to the need and call for more relief drivers?
Pay and pay?
Is it all about money?
Well, according to the article “ERP system collects about $150 million each year” (Yahoo News, Jan 18, 2012)
“Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew revealed in Parliament on Wednesday that the erection of 80 ERP gantries island-wide has collected more than S$400 million since 2009.
That works out to roughly $150 million each year.
$149 million was collected in 2009.
$159 million in 2010.
$97 million was collected last year until end October.
Responding to a question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Lina Chiam, Minister Lui assured the public that ERP is serving its purpose of managing congestion instead of generating revenue.”
According to the Budget revenues estimates (FY2013):
- Motor vehicle taxes $1.6 billion
- Excise duties: motor vehicles and petroleum products $0.6 billion
- Transport and Communications fees and charges $2.7 billion
- Traffic fines $52 million
Monthly pass may earn even more money?
So, with so much money being collected from transport – we still need to be mulling (“seriously considering”) after all these years – as to whether how much to reduce the ERP for taxis into the CBD or charge a monthly pass which may end up collecting even more money than the ERP now if most cabbies buy them?