ERP rate hikes: Drivers say they won't set off earlier


They will pay record high rates but don't expect smoother journeys

Motorists say the latest round of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) rate hikes may make it more expensive to drive, but is not likely to change their travelling habits.

From next Monday, drivers passing through the gantries on the East Coast Parkway (Fort Road) and Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) slip road into the ECP between 8.30am and 9am will be charged $6 - the highest rate since the ERP system started operating in 1998.

Using the Central Expressway (CTE) will also cost more with rates set to go up by 50 cents or $1 at certain times.

Investment analyst Mark Tan, who drives from Marine Parade to his Raffles Place office daily, currently pays $5 for using the ECP.

He said he will pay the extra $1, but does not expect traffic to improve.

"Even now when I pay $5, I'm stuck in the jam for more than 20 minutes. Paying more is not likely to make the roads any smoother."

Ms Josephine Chia, who uses the ECP to get to work in Bugis, also doubts the record-high $6 surcharge will improve the road congestion.

"We already pay so much for our cars, why would an extra $1 stop us from driving," said the marketing manager, 37.

Drivers, many of whom said they did not have flexible work arrangements, insist they are not likely to wake up earlier, or shift their journeys from the peak period just to pay less.

"Most roads are already congested in the morning... We have to get used to it," said Mr Elvin Sim, who chooses between the CTE and Bendemeer Road to get to the city centre daily.

A Straits Times check yesterday morning found that westbound traffic slowed to a crawl along the ECP (Fort Road) stretch at 8.30am, although roads started to clear within 15 minutes. The situation along the southbound CTE was no better, with the bottleneck building up after Braddell.

The LTA revises rates every three months to keep traffic speeds between 45kmh and 65kmh on expressways. The benchmark speed for arterial roads is between 20kmh and 30kmh.

National University of Singapore Professor Chin Hoong Choor, who specialises in traffic management, said the number of vehicles is not the only factor which determines how fast traffic moves. "Speed is also influenced by road design and the capacity of our highways."

Calling the ERP a "blunt tool", Prof Chin added that it only "relieves the pain in a small area but will not solve the main problem... The congestion will just go somewhere else."

But transport economist Michael Li from the Nanyang Business School said that the ERP is "the best model for now" to influence travel behaviour and control congestion.

"Even if we have a small percentage of drivers changing their travel patterns, it will go some way to make driving in the mornings a little more bearable."