Nine more Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry points will be set up on expressways and arterial roads in the Housing Board heartlands, and the operating hours on existing ERP points will be extended from Nov 1 to better manage traffic congestion, the Land Transport Authority announced today.
The morning ERP hours will be extended from 7am to 11am on weekdays on the south-bound Central Expressway (CTE) for motorists entering CTE from the slip road between Ang Mo Kio 1 and Braddell Road. Currently, the ERP hours are from 7.30am to 9.30am.
Motorists will also be charged 50 cents for entering the CTE from 7am to 7.30am, and from 9.30am to 11am.
In a statement today, LTA said the extension of the ERP coverage followed a a review of traffic conditions on the roads.
Separately, Transport Minister Raymond Lim, who visited the Kallang/ Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) operational control centre this morning, signalled that ERP coverage will invariably get more extensive and charges higher over time, as long as Singaporeans want more cars on the roads.
He said that over the last two years, traffic levels have been gradually but noticeably building up. More roads are congested, especially during peak hours, including in the evenings.
"The LTA has reviewed the situation, and decided to build a few more ERP gantries and extend the ERP hours on the CTE. Overall, these changes will help to improve traffic conditions on our roads," said the minister.
LTA said the ERP is a key tool for managing congestion, by maintaining traffic flow within the optimal speed range of 45 to 65 km per hour on expressways and 20 to 30 km per hour on arterial roads.
"The ERP seeks to achieve relatively smooth flowing roads by encouraging motorists to consciously plan their trips via different routes or consider public transport alternatives. As demand for travel increases due to factors such as population and economic growth, the ERP has to be continually reviewed for effectiveness, to take into account dynamic traffic conditions," it said.
The changes, to take effect from Nov 1, are:
Extension of morning ERP hours on the south-bound Central Expressway (CTE)
Currently, ERP is in operation on the south-bound CTE from 7.30am to 9.30am during weekdays. LTA says it has been effective in keeping traffic congestion in check during this period. However, outside the current ERP operating hours, traffic speeds have consistently fallen below the optimal speed range on the stretch between Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 and Braddell Road.
To improve traffic speeds, the operating hours at the ERP gantry between Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and Braddell Road will be extended from 7am to 11am on weekdays.
But there will be no changes in the operating hours of the other three ERP gantries along south-bound CTE (between Braddell Road and PIE; and Serangoon and Balestier Slip Roads). This is because the speeds along this CTE stretch between Braddell Road and PIE remain within the optimal speed range.
New ERP gantry with extended hours on North-bound Central Expressway (CTE)
LTA said the implementation of evening ERP on the north-bound CTE since August 2005 has helped to improve travel speeds on the CTE north of the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) exit. However, the average traffic speeds on the stretch from Bukit Timah to just before the PIE exit have consistently fallen below the optimal speed range due to the high volume of traffic from the city exiting to the PIE.
To manage congestion along this stretch, a new ERP gantry will be erected along the north-bound CTE just before the PIE exit. The charging hours at this gantry will be between 5.30 pm and 10.30 pm on weekdays.
New gantries for evening ERP charging on East-bound East Coast Parkway (ECP)
LTA said the high traffic volume along the east-bound ECP between 6pm and 8pm on weekdays has led to traffic congestion occurring between Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) and Fort Road exit of east-bound ECP.
In March 2007, LTA had provided an additional lane in each direction of the ECP between Fort Road and Marina South to help alleviate the congestion. Despite this, traffic speeds continue to remain below the optimal speed range, said LTA.
From November, ERP will be implemented on the east-bound ECP from 6pm to 8pm during weekdays. An ERP gantry will be erected at each of the two accesses into the east-bound ECP from the city and the AYE - before the Rochor Road exit and at the Ophir Road slip road.
New gantry on South-bound Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE)
Average traffic speeds on the BKE have deteriorated below the optimal speed range on weekdays. A new ERP gantry will be erected after the Dairy Farm exit, before the BKE joins the PIE, to help manage the traffic congestion there. The operating hours for this gantry will be from 7.30am to 9am during weekdays.
LTA said installation of other gantries Which Will Not Be Activated Until Speeds Fall Below Optimal Speed Range
There will also be a new gantry on the south-bound Upper Bukit Timah Road: New Gantry, after Hume Avenue. This gantry will only be activated when congestion builds up and traffic conditions warrant the implementation of ERP.
LTA will give prior notice before levying any ERP charge at this gantry.
In the outer cordon, which is beyond the Restricted Zone, new ERP gantries will be installed at Toa Payoh Lorong 6, Upper Boon Keng Road, Kallang Bahru Road and Geylang Bahru Road where traffic speeds may deteriorate below the optimal speed range. LTA said that the ERP charging will be activated only when traffic conditions deteriorate and warrant the implementation of ERP. LTA will continue to monitor the traffic conditions at the remaining six locations.
This leaves 6 other locations remaining in the Outer Cordon where ERP has not been implemented
In May 1999, LTA announced that the ERP system would be progressively expanded beyond the Restricted Zone (RZ) to relieve traffic congestion along roads in the Outer Cordon area under Phase 2 of the ERP plan. The aim is to relieve congestion in the Outer Cordon area by forming a cordon covering the radial roads leading into the city around the RZ.
In September 1999, LTA implemented seven gantries in the Outer Cordon and the Central Expressway under ERP Phase 2A, and announced that the remaining Phase 2 gantries would be implemented as and when traffic conditions warrant it.
In his speech, Minister Raymond Lim said the ERP system has been effective in keeping Singapore roads and expressways smooth-flowing.
"Had it not been for ERP, we would be facing traffic gridlock on numerous roads. Take the case of the ECP. Before ERP was introduced in 1998, the travel speed was as low as 36 kph between 8.30 am to 9 am. Today, the average speed is above 55 kph during that half hour," he said.
"Similarly for Orchard Road, average travel speeds on weekday evenings and on Saturday afternoons have improved from about 17 kph to 23 kph since ERP was implemented in October 2005."
He added with the ERP, introduced in 1998, the Government has been able to rely more on car usage charges and less on car ownership taxes to manage traffic demand.
Vehicle ownership taxes have been reduced and as a result, annual vehicle ownership revenue fell from $3.4 billion in 1997 to $1.7 billion in 2006 compared to about $90 million in annual ERP revenue collected during that period.
"ERP has thus proven to be a more effective approach to managing traffic demand, and it costs motorists much less overall. Indeed, ERP is meant to be a congestion and not a revenue measure, so if motorists drive less and the roads are smooth-flowing, the Government will be happy to collect less. In effect, ERP rates can be adjusted down, as much as up, depending on the traffic speed on the roads," he said.
Singapore's car population has grown from 680,000 in 1998 to 800,000 in 2006.
The Minister said to accommodate more vehicles on our roads, the ERP system will be expanded from time to time and the coverage will have to be continually adjusted to keep it effective.
"In the longer term, the LTA is looking at how to upgrade ERP technology to put in place a more effective system of congestion-charging. One possibility is to use GPS technology. We are working on this, but it is probably still a few years away as the technology is not quite ready," he added.
"LTA is also studying how we can deal with peak hour congestion more holistically and effectively, taking into account overall traffic conditions, for example in the CBD. LTA is also reviewing the optimal speed ranges on our roads and the response of motorists to the present structure of our congestion charges."
Transport Minister's full speech
ERP charges at new gantries/extended hours of operation
Summary of implementation dates for ERP 2007