Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ERP Rates In CBD To Go Up, 5 New Gantries Added

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 June 2008

About half of existing ERP gantries islandwide will see their rates increase from July 7.

The electronic road pricing (ERP) rates for 32 of 65 gantries will increase by between 50 cents and S$2.00. The gantries are primarily in the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard Road.

Five new ERP gantries along the Singapore River will also be activated on July 7.

Traffic in the CBD is slowing down, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA). So in January, as part of its Master Plan, the LTA came up with a new way to measure speed.

It is called the 85th percentile method - this is when motorists experience smooth traffic at least 85 percent of the time on roads that have ERP gantries.

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Another new LTA initiative is for bigger ERP rate increases because, LTA said, motorists are less sensitive to the existing rate structure.

In addition, ERP operating hours in the CBD will be extended by one hour on weekdays - from 7pm to 8pm - while gantries in the Orchard Road cordon will start an hour earlier on Saturdays, at 11am.

To reduce congestion further, LTA is putting in five new gantries along the Singapore River.

This essentially divides the CBD into two parts - the predominantly shopping-commercial district around the Bugis-Marina area and the office-based areas in Robinson Road.

LTA hopes that these gantries, which run from Eu Tong Sen Street to Fullerton Road, will cut down on what they call "through traffic".

LTA's chief engineer for transportation, Dr Chin Kian Keong, said: "The gantries along the Singapore River will deal with traffic passing through. They (some motorists using the roads) are not destined for that part of the city, but merely passing through to get to other parts of Singapore. If we can discourage some of these trips from city roads, traffic levels on these roads will become better."

Currently, a third of all traffic in the area is what LTA calls "through traffic" and LTA hopes to cut this by half, with the new ERP gantries.

Five of these gantries - at Fullerton Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road - will operate on weekdays from 6pm to 8pm daily. Motorists will pay S$2.00 from 6pm to 7.30pm and S$1.00 from 7.30pm to 8pm.

Two of the gantries - at Fullerton Road and Eu Tong Sen Street - will also operate on Saturdays from 12.30pm to 8pm, and motorists will have to pay S$2.00.

More changes may be coming up. In November, LTA will again use its new criteria to review gantry rates within and up to the outer cordon. And in February next year, LTA will look at all other gantries islandwide.

The question many motorists may have is "why is the government increasing the ERP rates now?", considering that there is a freeze on all government fees till the end of the year.

The Transport Ministry said things like the ERP rates are excluded from the freeze and that traffic congestion, left unchecked, will have a negative effect on the economy. - CNA/ir

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