SINGAPORE — As Singapore gears up for the next-generation Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, vehicles will be fitted with a new on-board unit to replace the current in-vehicle unit.
This installation will be rolled out in phases, with fleet vehicles such as public transport buses and taxis first, followed by privately owned vehicles.
TODAY answers some common questions about ERP 2.0 and the on-board unit.
WHY DOES THE IN-VEHICLE UNIT NEED TO BE REPLACED?
Currently, ERP gantries use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to read in-person units and collect a fee from any vehicle passing them.
However, these physical gantries take up space and are costly to maintain.
Hence, the Land Transport Authority is moving towards a satellite-based system, which will allow it to do away with the physical gantries.
This system will also allow the authority to collect better traffic data for congestion management and transport planning.
Motorists will have access to more information — such as real time traffic alerts, ERP charges and card balance — through the new on-board unit.
However, these features will require more computational power that can communicate with the satellite-based system. Hence, vehicles need to be outfitted with the on-board unit instead.
WHY DOES THE ON-BOARD UNIT HAVE SO MANY PARTS?
While motorcycles will have a single-piece on-board unit, other vehicles will have a three-piece unit.
This is because the single-piece unit is built for outdoor conditions, while the three-piece unit is for indoor warm conditions.
To ensure reliability, the processing unit is mounted away from the dashboard for better heat dissipation. This will be typically installed near the front passenger seat.
The other two components are: A touchscreen display and the antenna unit which communicates with the current ERP gantry and car park gantries, as well as the satellite-based ERP 2.0.
LTA added that with a three-piece unit, motorists can replace individual parts, rather than the whole on-board unit if they encounter any issues. The on-board unit will have a five-year warranty.
HOW DO I INSTALL THE ON-BOARD UNIT FOR MY VEHICLE?
While fleet vehicles will have a mobile team dispatched to carry out installation, private-vehicle motorists have a different process.
Vehicle owners will get an LTA notification via mail, email or SMS with installation instructions. LTA said this will be done in batches starting from the first quarter of 2024, based on the age of the vehicles.
When motorists get their notification, they can book an appointment through LTA’s dedicated site.
They then need to take their vehicle to the chosen installation workshop on appointment day.
LTA estimates the installation will take about three hours, but added it will be shortened as engineers familiarise themselves with the installation process.
The on-board unit will be free of charge for eligible vehicles during the installation exercise which is expected to run till end-2025. New vehicles will be fitted with the new unit from the first quarter of 2024.
Vehicle owners will not need to pay for installation should they do so within a two-month period which will be stated in their notifications.
LTA added that more details for on-board unit installation for private vehicle owners will be announced in early 2024.
COULD THE ON-BOARD UNIT POSE A SAFETY RISK?
The authority said on Monday that the antenna and touchscreen will be mounted “in a way that does not obstruct the view of drivers or distract them”.
This would be typically on the driver’s right and attached to the windscreen.
Another safety feature is that the touchscreen interface works only when the car is stationary or travelling under 15km/h.
WHAT FUNCTIONS WILL I MISS OUT ON IF I DO NOT INSTALL THE TOUCHSCREEN?
Motorists can opt to not have the touchscreen mounted — an option LTA has introduced following public feedback.
Key information can still be viewed on motorists’ mobile phones when paired to the on-board unit using LTA’s ERP 2.0 application and other third-party applications listed on LTA’s OneMotoring webpage.
However, they will lose out on some functions, such as being unable to adjust the sound of their processing unit — which will chime when ERP is charged — and using the system to pay for parking once ERP 2.0 is rolled out.
This is because of security safeguards which allow the on-board unit to provide data, but not read or make changes to data.
Motorists will still receive all three parts of the on-board unit, regardless if they decide to install the touchscreen display or not, said LTA. Should they decide to install the display after the two-month period, motorists will have to pay an installation fee.
LTA also explained that due to different smartphone models and systems with different security features, an entirely smartphone-based ERP system will not be ideal.
“A standard issue on-board unit ensures that ERP transactions can be carried out reliably across different vehicles and vehicle environments,” said the authority.
It added that it also eliminates issues motorists might face, such as their smartphone running out of battery, or losing cellular network throughout the drive.
DO I NEED A NEW CARD FOR THE SYSTEM?
While cashcards and SimplyGo EZ-Link Cards will not be accepted in the new on-board system, other payment cards used in the current in-vehicle unit will be.
They are valid Contactless e-Purse Application Specification (Cepas) cards, namely the EZ-Link Motoring Card, Standard EZ-Link Card, Nets FlashPay and Nets Motoring Card.
Backend payment options will also be available, allowing motorists to bill their charges directly to a credit or debit card. This service is provided by EZ-Link Motoring Service and Nets Virtual CashCard.
WILL ERP PRICE INCREASE?
There will be no changes to the ERP pricing system during the transition period.
According to the Ministry of Transport, ERP prices are determined based on traffic conditions.
If the traffic speed range on expressways and arterial roads is above the optimal amount, ERP charges are reduced. However, should traffic move slower than the optimal range, prices would then be increased.
These rates are reviewed every quarter, and maintenance costs are not a factor in determining ERP charges.
WILL DATA BE USED BY OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCIES?
“LTA adheres to government-wide standards on data sharing with other government agencies,” said the authority.
“For example, sharing of data to support policy and planning purposes will only be done on an anonymised or aggregated basis, in accordance with the Public Service (Governance) Act.
“To prevent unauthorised access and improper use of the data, there will be robust security and strict safeguards in place, including penalties under the Act.”
There are laws in Singapore that give some agencies the right to access data. For example, Section 20 of the Criminal Procedure Code empowers the police to access specific data necessary for the investigation of crime.
WHEN WILL ERP 2.0 BE ROLLED OUT?
LTA expects the installation of on-board units to be completed by end-2025. More details on ERP 2.0 will be shared towards the end of the installation exercise.