20 August 2023
How does ERP work in Singapore?

 It’s an unmistakable sight on our roads, and it’s universally hated by everyone. But, how does the ERP system work?

It sucks your hard-earned money and doesn’t give it back. Seemingly the only thing in Singapore that cannot break down, it’s the legendary ERP.

Electronic Road Pricing, or ERP, was a scheme conceived as a means to regulate the use of roads and handle traffic congestion. First implemented in 1998, these gantries are placed on selected routes and will kick in during morning and evening rush hours.

By doing so, the authorities hoped to promote the use of alternative routes, thus reducing the reliance on popular routes. So now you have two options: Pay the fee, or find another way around.

Of course, to this day the ERP is still a hot complaint topic. With its extensive coverage, the ERP has become virtually unavoidable for many drivers, provoking heavy criticism. Plus, whether it is really effective is still debatable.

So how does the system work?

There are a few components that make the ERP system work. The first is your In-Vehicle Unit or IU, which is where you insert your cashcard into.

Second, each ERP gantry consists of two sets of sensors. As pictured here, the first gantry has a short-range wireless system that communicates with the IU. The second gantry has cameras that are used to capture the rear license plates of vehicles as they pass by. This is to allow the authorities to identify errant drivers who do not pay the required toll.

Despite being fully automated, motorists can still fail to pay ERP rates from time to time. 

The most common causes for failing to pay the ERP is a missing cashcard or one that has run out of value. In some cases, it can even be the result of a faulty IU. 

What happens when I get fined?

If you drive through without paying, you will be subject to a fine. If you pay your fine within 2 weeks of receiving your notice, you will only have to pay the ERP charge plus an administrative fee of $10.

Miss the 2-week deadline, and you will be slapped with a $70 fine and a traffic offence. If you still do not pay up after 28 days, prepare to be brought to court. As with most things on our sunny shores, the authorities do not take this lightly.

Pre-COVID, the most expensive ERP charge was $6 for just a single gantry, although typical charges are between $1 to $3. As a rule of thumb, these charges are also usually the highest between 8-9am. Prices have started to rise again now that the pandemic is behind us, so make sure your cashcard has some value in it at all times.

It’s also worth noting that ERPs are operational every day except for Sundays and public holidays.

The rates are also reviewed once every quarter and during the June and December school holidays. The charges have also been fluctuating due to the COVID pandemic. At the time of this video, there are currently 78 active ERP gantries in Singapore. 

Will it ever be removed? Of course not.

As controversial as it is, the ERP is here to stay. Its main purpose is to encourage alternative routes or forms of transport, in the hopes of reducing overall congestion on our roads. Whether the system truly works or not is up for debate, but I digress. 

Love it or hate it, we can’t deny the ERP has become a cult icon, and we’re all just waiting for that special day, when it finally, FINALLY, breaks down.

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