Traffic congestion on a Singapore motorway © 123RF
Traffic congestion on a Singapore motorway © 123RF

Singapore awards road pricing deal

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded the tender for an updated Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system to a consortium of NCS and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engine System Asia.

The consortium will develop the “next-generation” ERP system based on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology, at a cost of S$556 million.

The current ERP system is used to manage road congestion and is based on a principle where motorists are charged when they use priced roads during peak hours. ERP rates vary for different roads and time periods depending on local traffic conditions.

The LTA said the new ERP system would provide more flexibility in managing traffic congestion through distance-based road pricing, where drivers are charged according to the distance travelled on congested roads, which would be fairer to motorists.

The authority said that it was not practical to continue with the current 20-year system, which would become increasingly expensive and difficult to maintain. The new electronic system would overcome the constraints of physical gantries, which are costly and take up land space, it claimed.

The new system, to be implemented in 2020, will replace existing in-vehicle units (IU) with on-board units (OBU) which will provide road users with traffic updates, and be used to pay for parking and checkpoint tolls electronically.

The LTA is also considering new policies for off-peak car users, which allows them to pay only when using their vehicles for short periods rather than the whole day, or for using them entirely on uncongested roads.

LTA CEO Chew Men Leong said, “Since its introduction, the road-pricing system has been effective in managing traffic congestion. The next-generation road-pricing system will allow us to improve on this with greater flexibility. It will also allow us to provide more services for motorists’ convenience, such as disseminating information on traffic advisories and facilitating e-payments.”

LTA shortlisted three consortia following an 18-month system evaluation test that concluded in December 2012. The authority said that all tender submissions were evaluated through a two-envelope process with equal weight given to the quality and price proposals submitted, ensuring that the tender proposals met the required standards and provided the best value for money.

There will now be an 18-month switchover period from the current ERP system to the new system, as the government bears the one-time IU replacement costs for Singapore-registered vehicles.

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