Oral Reply by Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat to Parliamentary Questions on ERP 2.0

08 May 2024In Parliament

Dr Lim Wee Kiak asked the Minister for Transport

a.     whether he will consider delaying the wider rollout of the ERP 2.0 On-Board Unit (OBU) for cars to address users’ feedback; 

b.     If so, how will the Ministry ensure a user-centric approach that incorporates users’ concerns while avoiding a complete system reversal; and

c.     how will users’ experiences be prioritised during the development and implementation of new technologies related to a ERP system.

Mr Murali Pillai asked the Minister for Transport with the implementation of ERP 2.0 which involves the relocation of the processing unit carrying CEPAS (Specification for Contactless e-Purse Application) or NETS cards to the front passenger footwells or other technically feasible positions in motor vehicles, whether it can be made mandatory for all carpark operators to upgrade their systems so that it will no longer be necessary for drivers to tap their cards at carpark terminal stations.

Reply by Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat:

1.     The current Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system will reach the end of its operational lifespan in a few years. Its replacement, ERP 2.0, is based on Global Navigation Satellite System technology. It is able to perform all the functions of the current ERP system, plus additional capabilities to better manage traffic flow on our roads, without the need for physical gantries. As I mentioned during MOT’s Committee of Supply debate earlier this year, it also provides the option for distance-based charging in future, which could allow for a one-off increase in our total vehicle population, while keeping traffic congestion in check.

2.    The transition from the current in-vehicle unit to the on-board unit (OBU) is a major exercise involving many motorists and a diverse range of vehicle makes and models, including new and existing vehicles. The process will take a few years to complete.

3.     Before embarking on the installation exercise, LTA worked with the dealers to study how the OBU could be best installed in different vehicles. LTA has staged out the installation exercise, starting with a group of early adopters since August 2023. I am one of them. About 2% or 18,000 vehicles out of almost one million vehicles in Singapore have installed the OBU. Of these, around 11,000 are fleet vehicles, including buses and company-registered vehicles.

4.     This phased approach gives the workshops time to prepare their workers and progressively ramp up their resources. It also allows LTA to take in feedback from stakeholders and understand the areas for improvement, before extending to other vehicles.

5.     Sir, based on feedback gathered from the early adopters, LTA has reviewed and made several improvements to the ERP 2.0 features and installation process to provide motorists with enhanced choice, convenience, and safety.

6.     First, on enhancing choice. Before installing the OBU, vehicle owners will be given the option to decide if they want to install the touchscreen display. Some may choose to have the touchscreen display, while others may prefer to use their in-vehicle display or their mobile phones. Our recommendation is to install the touchscreen display, I have done so for my car, but this is a choice for the vehicle owner to make.

7.     The vehicle owner can also choose where to place the touchscreen display subject to technical feasibility, for example, on the driver side or in the middle of the dashboard. If a vehicle owner decides not to install the touchscreen display, a unit of the display will still be given to him, so that he has the option to install it subsequently if he changes his mind.

8.     Likewise, the vehicle owner can decide where to place the processing unit. For the initial phase of installation, LTA only allowed the processing unit to be installed on the passenger side. Taking on board feedback from the early adopters, LTA has expanded the option for vehicle owners to install the processing unit on the driver side if they wish to do so, subject to technical feasibility. Service ambassadors will also be present at the showrooms and workshops to explain the options to vehicle owners before OBU installation.

9.     By providing more choices, the process becomes more complex, and the workshops will require more time to complete the installation. However, we think the trade-off is necessary, to allow vehicle owners to have the flexibility to customise their preferred options, and not have a “one-size fits all” approach.

10.    Second, enhancing user convenience. We understand the concerns from early adopters on the inconvenience of having to remove and reinsert the CEPAS card in the processing unit. LTA has worked with its partners to improve the ERP 2.0 system so that motorists do not need to remove their CEPAS card from the processing unit when they are driving the vehicle. This is a key design feature of the OBU. You do not need to remove the CEPAS card from the processing unit when you are driving the vehicle.

11.    For example, LTA has implemented a button on the touchscreen display to deactivate the card when motorists want to use their complimentary parking tickets. They can press the button on the touchscreen display. The card will be deactivated, and they can then use their complimentary ticket to exit the carpark. If the motorist forgets to reactivate the card after leaving the carpark, the correct amount will still be deducted from the card balance when he reaches the next active ERP gantry. This is unlike the current in-vehicle unit (IU) – if the motorist pulls the card out from the IU to use his complimentary parking ticket and forgets to re-insert it – it happens to us sometimes – he will not be able to make ERP payment when his vehicle passes through an active gantry.

12.    Another scenario is the topping up of the CEPAS card. Today, some of us may reach the carpark gantry only to realise that our balance is low, we must then find a way to exit the queue to top up the card. Quite inconvenient. With the OBU, your CEPAS card balance will be shown once you start the car. This can help remind motorists to top-up before reaching the gantry. For added convenience, motorists can sign up for auto top-up so they need not manually top up their card when the balance is low. The top-up will be done automatically.

13.    LTA will deploy service ambassadors to workshops to guide motorists who wish to sign up for automatic top-up of their CEPAS card when they install the OBU.

14.    The third scenario where removal of the CEPAS card may be needed is at certain carparks which require motorists to tap their cards at carpark terminal stations, as Mr Murali asked. All public carparks and many privately-owned carparks today already use Electronic Parking System (EPS), which does not require motorists to tap their cards at carpark terminal stations. There are however some privately-owned carparks which have yet to implement EPS. We welcome the initiative from NETS to provide a complimentary One Motoring Card for motorists who install the OBU. Motorists can use this additional card at the privately-owned carparks without EPS, without having to remove their CEPAS card from the processing unit.

15.    And finally, on enhancing user safety. This is not the main reason for doing ERP 2.0, but the added capabilities provide opportunities for LTA and its partners to offer some features that could help enhance user safety. Early adopters have shared with LTA that they find the notifications for bus lanes, silver zones and school zones useful, as these increase their situational awareness and improve road safety. We are working with partners to expand the list, including with the Traffic Police to include notifications for speed camera zones, with the intent of enhancing road safety by reminding motorists to keep within the speed limit at these locations. It will include not just the fixed cameras, but also red light and mobile cameras used by the Traffic Police to enforce against speeding.

16.    LTA will continue to take in feedback from motorists and develop features that can help enhance safety and convenience for motorists. These additional features can be pushed out to motorists “over-the-air”, after the OBUs have been installed. Motorists do not need to bring their vehicles to the workshop for these software updates.

17.    Mr Speaker, the transition to ERP 2.0 is a major exercise as there are different vehicles with different designs and specifications. We appreciate the feedback from our early adopters, which LTA has taken on board where feasible and made improvements to enhance user choice, user convenience, and user safety. LTA will continue to gather feedback from motorists, workshops and dealers to further enhance the user experience for all motorists, as we proceed with the installation exercise.


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