Why It Matters

App way to pay for parking

Earlier this week, three government agencies - the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Board and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore - announced a trial allowing motorists to pay for their parking using a mobile app, instead of parking coupons.

If adopted, the app could see the humble 20cm-by-8cm parking coupon - first introduced almost 40 years ago - finally being phased out.

While more than 70 per cent of public carparks already use the electronic parking system (EPS), coupons are still the only payment option at 1,150 carparks here.

These include kerbside parking spaces, where the EPS - which can cost up to $150,000 to install for a single carpark - would be impossible to implement.

The move to an app-based system would see the Republic move in line with other countries, where such apps are already in use.

In Malaysia, for example, a variety of apps are used to pay for street parking in a number of cities, including Johor Baru.

Touted as part of Singapore's Smart Nation push, the app for parking payment has a number of advantages.

First, there will be no money wasted as users will pay by the minute.

Second, carparks here would no longer be littered with circular tabs, punched out by motorists to mark their parking durations.

Situations like last December's rush to buy new coupons following an increase in parking charges - which resulted in the coupons being sold out at many places islandwide - could also be avoided.

However, the app seems archaic when compared with the myriad features built into ERP 2.0, which will make its debut in just three years.

The satellite-based, next-generation Electronic Road Pricing system will not only allow for couponless kerbside parking and gantryless road charges, but will also monitor and push out notifications on real-time traffic conditions to motorists.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'App way to pay for parking'. Print Edition | Subscribe