Published June 18, 2008

New gantries to beat congestion in city centre, ERP rate structure revised


(SINGAPORE) Five new ERP gantries and increases in electronic road pricing rates from July 7 are aimed at easing congestion in the city centre.

The new gantries will run along the Singapore River from Clemenceau Avenue to Fullerton Road. They will separate commercial and shopping areas such as the Suntec City area from the office-based areas in Shenton Way and Robinson Road.

The aim is to cut the amount of through traffic using the city area for outbound trips in the evening. The concept is similar to that behind the Orchard Cordon, which discourages vehicles from using Orchard Road to get to other areas.

Since the Orchard Cordon was implemented, 'transit traffic has been reduced from 30 per cent to 20 per cent', according to Permanent Secretary for Transport Choi Shing Kwok.

The aim of the new gantries is to cut the current 6,000 car trips into the central business district by 17-18 per cent.

'Fuel price increases have not affected this group much,' says Mr Choi, after citing a 7 per cent jump in the public transport ridership in the first four months of the year - when petrol prices were soaring.

The five new gantries will operate from 6pm to 8pm on weekdays. Two of them - at Eu Tong Sen Street and Fullerton Road (towards Esplanade Drive) - will also operate on Saturdays from 12.30pm to 8pm. They will join 32 existing gantries in the CBD. With the five new ERP gantries, the island will have a total of 65.

The revision of the ERP rate structure involves increases in the base charge and increments. For cars, the incremental charge will be raised from 50 cents to $1. The base charge, which is the starting charge for a new ERP gantry point, will be raised from the current $1 to $2.

The Land Transport Authority said this is because motorists have become less sensitive to the current rate structure, which has remained unchanged since 1998.

According to LTA, the changes will improve the effectiveness of the ERP system, and each time ERP rates are adjusted, motorists who still choose to drive on these roads will see a visible improvement in traffic flow.

LTA allayed concerns about the possible effect on businesses by citing the experience of London and its congestion charge. It said that since the English capital started the scheme, traffic in the central charging zone has been cut by 21 per cent. But hotels, restaurants and retail businesses have not only registered stronger business performance but outperformed other areas of London.