Things that make you scream shiok! #3 Beating the ERP

25th April 2011 #3 Beating the ERP.

Ever had that feeling of thrill and excitement when you beat the clock in a competitive event?

Now, that feeling is compounded when you are able to both beat the clock, and save money at the same time! In this time of high inflation, anything that can help you save money is indeed worth feeling good about.

You see, in the island city-state of Singapore, the government’s intent was to reduce heavy traffic gridlock that was synonymous of big sprawling urban cities in the world. Just take a look at the nightmarish traffic gridlock of Bangkok and Jakarta, whereby you are fortunate to move 50 metres per half an hour in your car, should you be stuck in one.

The first road pricing scheme in Singapore, was known as the Area Licensing Scheme (ALS), which was introduced in the Restricted Zone (RZ) or Central Business District (CBD), in 1975.  In September 1998, the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system replaced the manual system for the RZ and expressways, as well as the key arterial roads beyond the CBD.

The ERP is based on a pay-as-you-use principle and is designed to be a fair system, as motorists are charged when they use the road during peak hours.

How do we get charged, you may ask? Well, all Singaporean cars must install a In-Vehicle Unit (IU), in which a cash card is inserted, so that the overhead ERP gantry, as shown in the picture below, can deduct the appropriate charges.

Now, the ERP peak hour duration differs from location to location, and from time to time. For example, it may cost $1.50  if you cross a particular highway (eg: East Coast Parkway (ECP))at 07:30 hrs. However it may increase to $3.00 at the same stretch, after 07:35 hrs! And after 09:30 hrs, the peak hour ends. Here’s an interactive map for your reference.

So, can you imagine a driver’s angst when he gets stuck in the daily traffic gridlock at 07:34 hrs, and within a minute’s span, has to pay 2 x the price! Conversely, you can imagine their joy if they don’t have to pay the tax!

Now there are times, when I’ve to send my wife to work first, and as a result, reach that particular ECP gantry at around 09:29 hrs.

Something magical then happens. Every car seems to slow down to almost a crawl during this golden minute. It’s as though they want to beat the clock, and save money!

Whatever the case is, whenever my car drives past the overhead gantry at 09:30 hrs  and nothing is deducted from my cash-card, the feeling is . . .

Simply Shiok!

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