Zuraidah Ibrahim
Sun, May 25, 2008
The Straits Times
ERP woes: Ridiculous

Two weeks ago, The Straits Times reported that 300 motorists a month had problems at the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries through no fault of theirs. They had a fully stored CashCard, but it was either the card or the in-vehicle unit (IU) that failed to register at the ERP gantries, resulting in them having to pay fines.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) put the blame on a batch of cards issued in 2006 without the Gemplus logo on the card's chip. But the Network for Electronic Transfers Singapore (Nets), which owns the cards, retorted that tests on its own IUs showed that its CashCards were working fine.

So whose fault was it anyway? A Nets spokesman then suggested that there might be incompatibility issues with some IUs, and said it was working with the LTA on the problem. Two weeks have passed and the problem still persists, and all LTA and Nets can say is that they are 'investigating the cause of these incidents'. No further details were given.

Although motorists who experience the problem have their fines dropped when they go to the LTA to explain their situation, they are frustrated by the time and effort it takes them to do so. To have a fine waived, a motorist has to go to the LTA, and is then sent to an authorised mechanic to have his CashCard and IU tested. Then he goes to a customer service centre run by Nets to get a new card.

On Thursday, LTA and Nets announced that from this week, motorists need go only to an authorised mechanic to have their fines dropped if the CashCard or IU proves faulty.

But it is a wholly unsatisfactory situation, even if the number of motorists involved is small. Why the LTA and Nets can't get their act together after two weeks is baffling. Nets has issued a new CashCard which may not give rise to the problem, but it has proven elusive to motorists. Stores have been instructed to clear the stock of old cards first before selling the new ones. This is the height of absurdity.

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