This is a really interesting article in that supposedly less than 50% of all motorists travel through the ERP everyday. kenaspammed in the straitstimes.com discussion forum mentioned that according to the LTA web site, the number of private cars as at year 2006 is 421,904; number of taxis is 23,334 and the number of goods & other vehicles is 144,466. Based on these values. This brings the total number of vehicles to 589,704, and the sample size taken? A grand total of 295, which is 5.00e-4. Yes, it was so small that it shows up as e-values on my calculator. Effectively, it’s 0.0005% of the population in 2006.

I’m not sure why they even bother taking this survey with such a small sample size. Goodness. 0.0005%?! It’s like me asking everyone in my lab if they drive through the ERP gantries in the morning and the answer would be 100% – since my school is in the west and in the middle of nowhere.

EACH time the tolls on Singapore’s roads rise, a chorus of complaints sounds from drivers across the island.

But the reality is that less than half of all motorists pass through Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries on their way to work.

A Singapore Press Holdings survey of 295 motorists found that 46 per cent fork out money to drive on the island’s roads.

Of these, about 70 per cent pay $3 or less every morning.

The survey was done over three days in mid-November, about two weeks after ERP rates were raised by 50 cents.

Tolls on the Central Expressway (CTE) from the Pan-Island Expressway went up to $5 between 8.30am and 9am – making it Singapore’s costliest stretch of road.

The survey also found that higher prices are not enough to scare most motorists away.

Of the drivers who passed at least one gantry and were aware of the new ERP charges, only 30 per cent changed their driving habits.

About 16 per cent took the same route but left earlier or later to avoid the charges. Only 14 per cent decided on entirely different routes to their workplace.

But head of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport Cedric Foo said this does not mean the ERP system is ineffective.

‘It may be true that the ERP rate changes have so far not produced the desired outcome of smoother traffic flow at peak periods. (But) imagine what would happen to our roads if ERP was scrapped,’ he said.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has seen ‘general improvements in traffic speeds’ since the ERP increase.

Traffic was flowing within the optimal speed range of 45kmh to 65kmh during peak periods.

The LTA said traffic on the CTE during rush hour – long a bane of Singapore’s motorists – has improved.

The Bukit Timah Expressway and the eastbound East Coast Parkway (ECP) also showed improvement.

Traffic on secondary roads is ‘satisfactory’ with speeds in the optimal range of 20kmh to 30kmh after the ERP increase, according to the LTA.

These traffic improvements, however, could be due to the end-of-year holidays, said the LTA.

Transport specialist Professor Paul Barter from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said even a small reduction in the number of cars on the road can free up highways.

‘Once speeds start to drop below free flow, just a few more can bring it to gridlock. So the fact that only a small number of people changed their habits is perfectly consistent with the observation that speeds improved,’ he explained.

Despite the official word that traffic has improved with the higher ERP charges, the public remains sceptical.

The SPH survey found that more than three-quarters of the 295 respondents did not think the ERP increase has eased peak-hour traffic.

Miss Arabelle Chan, 26, an accounts executive, said: ‘Even when the prices are exorbitant, there are still cars.

‘I’m just avoiding the CTE and taking inner roads or the ECP most of the time.’

Mr Foo said that if drivers ‘give the issue more thought’, they will see the upside of the tolls, which includes less congestion, less wasted petrol and less pollution.

He also said Singapore should improve its public transport network to help those who cannot afford to drive.

mariaa@sph.com.sg


Key findings

  • About 54 per cent of drivers do not drive under ERP gantries on their way to work.
  • Of those who do, 70 per cent continue to take the same route despite the increase in ERP charges.
  • To avoid paying more, 10 per cent left for work earlier, about 6 per cent left later and 14 per cent found an alternate route.
  • About 77 per cent of those surveyed did not think the increase in ERP charges reduced traffic on the road during peak hours.
  • Of those who thought otherwise, 40 per cent said they saved less than 15 minutes.

    295 motorists interviewed

    OVER the course of three days, a Singapore Press Holdings team conducted telephone interviews with 295 motorists who drive to work daily.

  • Eight in 10 respondents were male.
  • More than half of all respondents were between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • Another quarter were 50 and older.
  • About two-thirds of those surveyed were professionals.
  • Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 15th January 2008



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