A new road pricing system that relies on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology can help traffic management in many ways, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew on Monday (Nov 3), who told Parliament that it would not financially prudent to continue with the current Electronic Road Pricing gantry system in the long term.
GNSS technology allows for distance-based pricing along congested roads, thus making it more equitable for motorists, Mr Lui said. Under such a system, every vehicle becomes a sensor, which will allow the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to develop a more accurate picture of the traffic situation and intervene if necessary.
The LTA can then broadcast this data to motorists to help them plan their journeys and avoid congested roads, he said. This data will also be aggregated and anonymised – which means it will not infringe on the privacy of motorists. LTA is planning to implement the system by around 2020, he noted.
Mr Lui was speaking in response to questions posed by MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Zainal Sapari about the new road pricing system.
Last month, the LTA called a tender to develop this system; the tender is still ongoing, Mr Lui said. What is clear is that maintaining the current gantry system – in place since 1998 – will not be financially prudent, he added.
“The annual operating cost has risen by 80 per cent over the last decade, and a large part of the system is coming to the end of its cycle, and it will have to be replaced, even if we do not move to a GNSS-based system,” said Mr Lui, adding that physical gantries also take up land that could otherwise be freed up for more roadside greenery.
But Mr Lui cautioned that while a GNSS-based road pricing system may improve traffic management, it alone cannot ensure that Singapore’s roads continue to be relatively smooth-flowing.
The minister said this would require a holistic approach involving vehicle growth, population controls, as well as enhancing and promoting public transport.