First, don’t get me wrong. I’m a supporter of our Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system insofar as it helps to improve traffic flow.
I’m not against the principle of paying for what I use. Which is what road tax is for or that’s what I’ve been led to believe while ERP is the premium to be paid for using our roads when more people are using them.
What I find incredible is that the ERP is in operation on some roads which are patently free from traffic.
I’m writing about it again tonight because of what happened yesterday afternoon, after I finished a WDA-financed workshop class (yes, continuing education has gotten to me too).
As it was raining, I was sending a newly acquainted fellow course-attendee to the MRT station on a route I won’t have normally taken, had I been heading for home.
And blow me, I got caught by an ERP gantry at exactly the spot where the letter* writer to the Straits Times was last month and whose sentiments I supported in my “Wacky ERP charges” post.
OK, my cash card was deducted by just $1, compared to the $2 deducted from the letter writer’s cash card. Perhaps it’s because I passed the gantry leading towards the Esplanade at 3.22pm while he went thru at around 1.30pm.
Yesterday afternoon’s traffic was light to almost non-existent. Perhaps it was because of the rain and the Saturday of a long holiday week-end.
More interestingly, the morning traffic was heavy along Cantonment Road when I turned into Tangjong Pagar Road on my way to my course. I expected to be whacked for $2.50 at the gantry, as I had been during week days. But surprisingly, the gantry lights were off!
Which brings me to this question: are the people in charge of the ERP on auto-pilot? Don’t they think? Most offices within the inner CBD don’t operate any more on Saturdays, especially on a long week-end. And long week-ends are known long be4 the official calendars are printed!
Why can’t the ERP be switched off for all gantries leading in and out of the CBD on Saturdays, especially long week-ends?
I won’t want to join the Opposition in demanding that the Government do this or that at the next GE. But I think it won’t hurt to ask that the PAP promise that when it is returned, it will ensure that the civil servants be more proactive when it comes to adjusting ERP charges downwards or switching off the lights altogether, at the appropriate times.
* Letter that was carried by the Straits Times on March 4
‘The gantry should not even be switched on.’
MR MICHAEL LOH: ‘The Land Transport Authority’s reply last Saturday (‘ERP gantry location based on overall traffic condition’) prompts another puzzle: Why is it necessary to turn on the ERP gantry at the Fullerton Hotel in the direction of Esplanade Bridge on Saturday afternoons? And why is there a premium of $2? I drove along that stretch on Saturday at about 1.30pm. Traffic was very light, with perhaps three or four cars in a stretch of 100m. There was no question of the average speed falling below 40kmh. Logically, the ERP gantry, which is to regulate heavy traffic, should not even be switched on and even if it should be, $2 is an exorbitant charge.’