Forum: Distance-based ERP burdens majority living in suburbs

It was announced that the distance-based charging will not be implemented when the new Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system kicks in (Congestion-pricing model to remain for new ERP system, Sept 11).

As Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung mentioned, distance-based charging is a significant policy change which has many implications and should be studied carefully.

To many, a pure distance-based ERP may seem fair - road users pay based on how much they travel. But such a system may, in fact, be inequitable.

In Singapore, people prefer to live in more central areas, but most people live in the suburbs where property prices are more affordable.

Those in the suburbs have to travel more each day to commute to work or school, not by choice but by necessity.

A pure distance-based ERP system will penalise less affluent citizens who live in the outside central region by making them pay more, while lowering costs for the more affluent who live in the core central region.

I urge the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to continue with the current cordon-based congestion pricing framework indefinitely, or, if it is implementing a distance-based system in the future, to do this only within the confines of the restricted zone, with cordon-based congestion pricing continuing at other locations.

In any case, in designing the new system, LTA should take care to ensure that it is equitable and does not unduly burden the majority of citizens who live in the suburbs.

Jeremy Teo Chin Ghee (Dr)

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