ERP in focus: How S’pore became the first to develop an electronic road pricing system

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How the ERP system came to be in Singapore

ERP 2.0 has been the talk of the town among motorists in Singapore.

Some have argued that the developments are not user-friendly, citing issues with the new in-vehicle on-board units (OBU) design.

The OBU is not the only thing that has transformed over the years, with the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system also changing Singapore’s roads since its implementation in 1998.

Here’s a look at how the ERP developed in the nation-state — starting with a battle against peak-hour traffic in the 1970s.

Finding a solution for traffic congestion in the 1970s

By the 1970s, Singapore was facing a traffic congestion problem. The Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) was thus introduced in 1975 as a solution to manage congestion.

New Nation published a report in May 1975 summarising the scheme — noting that it was “the first of its kind” in the world.

The ALS saw the establishment of multiple “Restriction Zones”, which only allowed the entry of vehicles with special area licences.

This paper licence, which cost S$60 a month and S$3 a day, was for those who wanted access to the zones during the morning peak hours of 7.30am to 9.30am.

Motorists should display this paper licence on the top-left-hand corner of their windscreen.

This would have been subject to checks by authorities who were stationed at the restricted zone “gantries”.

According to Roots, the following vehicles were exempted from applying for the area licence:

  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Motorcycles
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Police and military vehicles
  • Ambulances
  • Fire engines
  • Motorcars carrying at least four passengers

According to the National Archives of Singapore, there were six restriction zones across Singapore.

Archival photos showed overhead signs along areas such as

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