The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Tuesday (8 September) the Government’s plan to replace the existing Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system with a next-generation ERP (nextgen ERP) system that leverages Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).
Instead of the current in-vehicle unit (IU), the new ERP system will use a new on-board unit (OBU) that is able to provide additional information like real-time traffic updates, as well as locations of nearby School Zones and Silver Zones.
According to LTA’s press statement, the installation of the new OBU in vehicles will take place in the second half of 2021 and will happen over 18 months, in order to replace the current IU.
It added that the first unit will be free for existing Singapore-registered vehicles.
Despite the replacement and upgrade of the technology and system, LTA stated that the way congestion pricing is being levied today will not change, adding that the ERP rates will continue to be reviewed based on traffic speeds and congestion levels.
“While the technology and system have been replaced and upgraded, the way congestion pricing is being levied today will not change,” said the authority.
“ERP charging locations will also be clearly indicated, just like now, but with smaller and slimmer gantries.”
The new OBU will have two designs for motorcycles and other vehicles. The one for motorcycles will be a single-piece unit, whereas the other types of vehicles will have an antenna, processing unit and touchscreen.
Lastly, the LTA mentioned that the next-gen ERP will collect anonymised or aggregated data from users for “traffic management” and “transport planning purposes”.
“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. Summons related to such non-payments will largely be auto-generated, like today.”
Commenting on security measures, LTA pointed out: “To prevent unauthorised access and improper use of the data, there will be robust security and strict safeguards in place, including penalties under the Public Service (Governance) Act.”
Over on social media, online users mocked LTA for its clunky design of the new ERP system. Commenting on the Facebook page of Channel News Asia, they said that the current system has one device, however, LTA is now introducing “3 equally clunky and chunky devices” to replace it. Some even pointed out that their vehicle will soon end up looking like a taxi with these devices installed in it.
Additionally, many online users also highlighted the safety hazard that this new system poses to drivers. They explained that the “new OBU is a road hazard as it creates an additional obstruction on the dashboard, and takes away motorist focus on the roads”.
Separately, some online users said that changing to a new ERP system while in a midst of pandemic means that it’s going to be a costly affair. As such, they asked why the implementation of the new system can’t be done after the economy recovers?