Channel NewsAsia

Thomson ERP gantry does its job

The Thomson Road ERP gantry has managed to control the traffic by giving motorists disincentives. But motorists can avoid the ERP by turning into Toa Payoh Rise.   

SINGAPORE: As more Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries are erected over the years, it has been nearly impossible for motorists to escape them. However, Channel NewsAsia has identified one.

Motorists travelling along Thomson Road are able to by-pass the ERP gantry when it is operational by taking an alternative route.

The Thomson Road ERP gantry was erected due to congestion spills as a result of gantries introduced at the Central Expressway (CTE).

The gantry is operational from Mondays to Fridays between 7.30am and 9.30am. The ERP charges range from 25 cents to S$4.00, depending on the type of vehicle.

Motorists can avoid the ERP by turning into Toa Payoh Rise - which links Thomson Road to Toa Payoh Lorong 1 - then on to the Pan Island Expressway and back to Thomson Road. The 3-kilometre detour takes about six minutes.

In the past, Toa Payoh Rise was just a one-way road, but with the completion of the Caldecott MRT station in 2011, that stretch of road now runs both ways. This allows motorists travelling from Thomson Road to get to Toa Payoh Lorong 1 via Toa Payoh Rise.

Motorists Channel NewsAsia spoke to say the diversion is not very practical.

Motorist Michael Chook said: "I've tried before, but I think it's better to pay the ERP rather than go one round. Right now, Toa Payoh at this peak hour is a bit congested also. So if you're willing to pay S$1 or even S$1.50, I think it's not worth to go by Toa Payoh.

However, some motorists would consider the detour, if they were not in a rush.

Another motorist Alvin Lee said: "If I have time, if I don't have to go anywhere, to save the S$2 or S$2.50 or whatever, yes, maybe."

Transport analysts do not see the situation as a loophole in the ERP system.

Dr Park Byung-joon, head of Urban Transport Management Programme at SIM University, said: "The purpose of the ERP system is not to build a watertight fortress against all the traffic coming into the city area. The real purpose is to try to control the traffic by giving them disincentives getting into the congested region.

"And it's very expensive to set up the ERP gantry. If one particular road has a very low volume, it may not be viable to have this ERP, although that road can be used to by-pass the ERP.

The Land Transport Authority said it has been monitoring traffic conditions along Toa Payoh Rise since its conversion. It has assessed that no traffic demand management measure, such as an ERP gantry, is necessary since traffic speeds there are at an optimal level. 

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