The recent announcement of the imminent arrival of the next generation of the Electronic Road Pricing system has raised many questions (Shift to new ERP system starts next year with IU swop, June 17).
First, we know that the new on-board unit will be larger than the current in-vehicle unit, and the first replacement will be free. But will a larger hole in a car windscreen's solar film be required to allow transmission, and if so who will pay for this?
Second, will the new system be islandwide, and will it operate round the clock? If it is time-dependent, you may see traffic surges once charges are reduced, much like how we now see cars stopping in the middle of the road in front of ERP gantries waiting for charges to change, which may promote reckless driving.
Third, there are issues related to privacy, such as whether the information will be used to track individuals or record speeding.
The net cost of moving from one place to another should not increase dramatically. The public transport system needs to improve significantly before we impose such charges. After all, if we wanted a simple scheme for distance-based road pricing, we could increase fuel tariffs.
Any such scheme needs to be transparent and easy to understand.
Planners need to put themselves in the shoes of ordinary Singaporeans, who want to go from place to place smoothly, safely and swiftly without having to pay an arm and a leg.