SINGAPORE - Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) will be suspended at most locations from April 6, with remaining spots seeing rates slashed.
All gantries in the city and several on arterial roads will see zero charge.
In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen less commuting, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Tuesday (March 31) that he has asked the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to bring forward the usual quarterly review of ERP rates.
Hence, zero charging will take effect at several gantries during most time slots from next Monday.
For instance, travelling southbound on the Central Expressway before Braddell Road towards the city will be free, down from between $1 and $2 now. The Pan-Island Expressway between Adam Road and Mount Pleasant Road will likewise have zero charging, from between $1 and $2 now.
In total, 74 out of 77 gantries will see a reduction of up to $2.
The LTA said the reductions are not to encourage people to drive more. It added that motorists and commuters should still defer all non-essential travel.
Speaking to reporters at the Intelligent Transport System centre on Tuesday morning, Mr Khaw said that traffic was now "lighter than even during the December school holidays".
"Yesterday, I deliberately during peak hour, 8am, I went to work in the office, I drove. Usually, it takes me 55 minutes but yesterday, I did it in 20 minutes," he said.Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan during a visit to LTA’s Intelligent Transport Systems Centre on March 31, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN
"The situation has changed. We have to be nimble. This is the first time in so many years that we vary the (ERP review) framework."
Mr Khaw added that Singapore is also making use of the lighter traffic conditions to speed up roadworks.
"Previously, we will avoid roadworks during office hours. But now, what is peak and what is off-peak is blurring," he said. "So we are taking advantage of this... to do what we need to do anyway."
The LTA added that it will review rates more frequently as traffic is expected to reduce further should the Covid-19 outbreak continue.
Asked if ERP 2.0 - a satellite-based system that can charge according to distance - would be delayed, Mr Khaw said: "We're pressing on with all our development projects."
But he added that global manufacturing has been affected by the pandemic and there may be some delay.
"We're watching closely to see if we can keep to the timeline," he said.
ERP 2.0 was slated to start later this year with the replacement of in-vehicle units.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.
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