Oral Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Amy Khor to Parliamentary Question on ERP 2.0

06 Nov 2023In Parliament
Ms He Ting Ru asked the Minister for Transport in relation to the introduction of ERP 2.0 

a.     whether there have been any updated considerations and measures put in place (i) to balance the usage of data, in particular geo location data and (ii) on the usage of this data to fight crime, weighed against concerns about data security and privacy; and 

b.     if so, what are they.

Mr Yip Hon Weng asked the Minister for Transport 

a.     what is the comparative cost per unit of the In-Vehicle Unit of the current ERP system relative to the on-board unit of ERP 2.0; 

b.     what is the anticipated lifespan of the ERP 2.0 system before it becomes obsolete; and 

c.     whether LTA has assessed if the crucial functions of ERP 2.0 system can be replicated to a smartphone App to offer motorists a choice between exclusively utilising the App and installing the On-Boarding Unit.

Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis asked the Minister for Transport 

a.     when does the Government intend to commence the implementation of distance-based charging under the new satellite-based Electronic Road Pricing system; 

b.     what are the factors under consideration to determine such a start date; and 

c.     whether the pricing mechanism for distance-based charging has been determined.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan asked the Minister for Transport 

a.     how will the new on-board unit (OBU) for vehicles under the next generation Electronic Road Pricing system be effective in regulating traffic congestion on the roads if motorists are unaware of the exact costs of using certain roads; and 

b.     whether the payment options using the OBU will be aligned to the car park payment options for all car parks in Singapore.

Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Amy Khor:

1.     Mr. Speaker, may I have your permission to answer PQs 55 to 58 on today’s Order Paper? 

2.     The current Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system has served us well for 25 years, since 1998, in mitigating traffic congestion and keeping traffic smooth along key roads. However, it is reaching the end of its operational lifespan. Obsolete parts in the gantries as well as the existing in-vehicle unit (IU) would require customised production or the use of less reliable substitutes which could affect the effectiveness and reliability of the system. Running such an aging system will not be cost effective. 

3.     The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had assessed that it is less costly to replace the current ERP system with ERP 2.0 based on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology, compared to extending the existing system. The new system allows LTA to be more agile in managing congestion. LTA will have valuable insights into our traffic conditions to make quicker interventions without the need to build costly physical gantries in land-scarce Singapore. ERP 2.0 is planned with long term use in mind. The system architecture is based on open standards and a modular design, which will allow for future upgrades, that will help keep ERP 2.0 relevant and up-to-date.

Congestion Management Approach and Supporting Carpark Systems

4.     Mr Lim Biow Chuan asked how motorists would be aware of ERP charges with the new on-board unit (OBU). Under ERP 1.0, the charge is displayed on the IU when the vehicle crosses the gantry. During the transition from ERP 1.0 to ERP 2.0, when the new OBUs are being progressively installed, there will be no change to how motorists will be charged as charging will continue to be carried out by the gantries.
5.     When the transition to ERP 2.0 is completed, charging will be carried out through GNSS as the physical gantries are progressively decommissioned. There will be signages which demarcate the points at which ERP will be charged and the OBU will provide an alert when the vehicle approaches an ERP-charging location and indicate the relevant charges. For motorists who choose not to install the OBU screen, this information will be made available through compatible mobile applications on smartphones. Information on ERP charged locations and ERP rates will also be announced and made available publicly on the OneMotoring website, which is similar to the current practice.

6.     Mr Lim Biow Chuan also asked whether the OBU will be aligned to the car park payment options. The short answer is yes. The OBU is designed to work with existing systems, including ERP and Electronic Parking System carparks. Motorists can continue to pay via valid CEPAS cards such as EZ-Link Motoring Card, NETS Flashpay and NETS Motoring Card, but not cash cards, as these are being phased out. 

7.     Mr Yip Hon Weng asked on the comparative costs between the IU and OBU. For all eligible existing Singapore-registered vehicles, the OBU will be installed free of charge if completed within the two-month period stated in LTA’s notification. It will also come with a five-year warranty. All new vehicles purchased from first quarter 2024 will be fitted with the new OBUs.  The costs of the new OBU are being finalised and will be announced in due course.

8.     Mr Louis Chua asked when does the Government intend to commence the implementation of distance-based charging. LTA has no immediate plans to introduce distance-based charging. Distance-based charging is a different approach for congestion management, and any plans to implement it must take many factors into consideration.

Data Usage and Security

9.     Ms He Ting Ru asked whether our considerations on data usage had been updated. Our reply to her on this issue in 2020 remains valid. To reiterate, there are strict safeguards in place to govern the collection, usage, and storage of data. For instance, LTA will only use anonymised or aggregated data for traffic management and transport planning purposes. For vehicle-specific data, LTA will only use it for payment, charges, and enforcement, such as against non-payment of ERP charges. LTA also adheres to Government-wide standards for data security, including strict guidelines on data sharing with other Government agencies. Robust safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorised access. There are also criminal penalties for the unauthorised disclosure and improper use of information. The Ministry of Home Affairs is replying to a separate PQ on the use of ERP 2.0 data by the Singapore Police Force and intelligence agencies.

10.    Mr Yip Hong Weng also asked if LTA had assessed if the ERP 2.0 system could be wholly replaced using a smartphone. The OBU has three key functions – 1) identify the vehicle’s location and communicate with the ERP system; 2) process transactions in real-time safely and securely; and 3) notify motorists on the ERP charge and other key traffic information. 

11.    For the first function, the precision of smartphone location data can vary across different devices and increases the risk of erroneous charging. As a common and trusted standard-issue device for all Singapore-registered vehicles, the OBU can better ensure reliability and performance, and reduce significant downstream operational challenges, such as disputes regarding charging inaccuracies.  

12.    It is also crucial to ensure that there are strict safeguards for data collection and storage. The OBU has been designed with robust security measures and tested extensively to ensure that it can handle real-time charging transactions and data securely. Data stored in the OBU cannot be directly accessed by motorists or external mobile application and are designed to be tamper-proof with a high level of security and encryption. The OBU is also designed for one-way communication to ensure better security. Therefore, while it can broadcast data, it is not designed to receive data or instructions from an external mobile application.

13.    For the second function, to allow the smartphone to process the ERP transactions, motorists will have to start their mobile apps, key in their passcodes, or use biometric authentication to enable ERP charging each and every time they travel. This is inconvenient to motorists, and some may inadvertently forget to start their mobile apps for the ERP. 

14.    For the third function, LTA has taken on board earlier feedback and a mobile interface has since been developed, allowing motorists to opt out of installing the accompanying touchscreen of the OBU and use their smartphones for information display. 

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