Thinking of beating that red light when there’s no red-light camera? Thinking of making that ILLEGAL U-turn? Thinking of parking or waiting at that Zig-zagged yellow line with no one watching? You’d better think NOT TWICE, but THRICE (or more) now. Singapore is poised to be equipped with the state-of-the-art GPS that’s able to track where your vehicle is, how long it’s been on the road and if it’s parked at a non-gazetted area.

Singaporeans will now have to watch not only their back, but high in the sky whenever they think of committing a traffic offence. This is because the GPS is also able to determine if you had been speeding along any roads, including going beyond that 15km/h speed limit at the road outside your car park. The GPS is also poised to aid in deducting ERP charges based on the roads that you take and if you are contributing to a jam. The method in which this is carried out, is currently not know.

However, a trial done recently confirmed that this is indeed feasible and the LTA hopes to move on to the real thing without having to go through another round of trial. Not only will your GPS-enabled unit notify you of an approaching toll ("invisible gantry"), it’d also help guide you if you are lost. Of course, it’s expected that the unit will be equipped with either a screen or some form of communication tool.

Alas, it was not made know if alternative routes will be made known to you if the tolls are adaptive, i.e. on-the-fly. This could potentially wreck havoc while driving. Read: sudden e-brakes (that’s emergency brake, not electronic brake).

Here’s a big ang-bao to all Singaporeans: making life easier for you in the future!

A SATELLITE-TRACKED electronic road-pricing system that could charge drivers for using congested roads anywhere in Singapore may be ready as early as 2010.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has just completed a series of field tests spanning over a year to determine the reliability of such infrastructure, which operates without gantries and is based on the Global Positioning System (GPS).

While many details, including pricing, have yet to be worked out, the LTA indicated that Singapore is poised to be one of the first cities in the world to use such a system.

It will rely on GPS-enabled in-vehicle units (IUs) to track where drivers go, as well as the distance they clock.

Drivers are likely to be charged based on how long they stay on the road, to better reflect their actual contribution to congestion.

It is understood that one advantage of the new system is that it can determine quickly when and where congestion is occurring, and levy charges accordingly. Motorists will also benefit: The IU can notify them that they are approaching a priced road.

Dr Chin Kian Keong, the LTA’s transportation chief engineer, called the satellite-tracking system ‘a sharper tool’ for controlling congestion than the current fixed gantry system.

He told The Straits Times on Monday that system trials were completed last December, and participants were from 10 companies, five of which were local. Each fielded between four and 10 vehicles equipped with GPS hardware and software.

Using such a system, which The Straits Times learns could be ready by 2010 or 2011, could mean that ERP rates would be more commensurate with a road user’s actual contribution to congestion.

The current gantry system does not differentiate between, say, a vehicle that enters the CBD and is parked in an office building all day, and one that stays on the road for hours – a taxi or delivery truck, for example – and increases congestion.

One of the main aims of the recent field tests was to determine if a gantry-less system could be as reliable as the current decade-old scheme.

LTA chief engineer Leong Kwok Weng said results showed that accuracy was ‘well over’ 90 per cent in open areas such as expressways, and 30 per cent in the city.

The reason for the low accuracy rate in the city is what engineers call the ‘urban canyon effect’, where satellite signals are reflected off high-rises, causing distorted readings.

But Dr Chin said that there are ways of working around this, including setting up signal beacons on curbs or buildings.

Using such a system will also benefit motorists, he added.

For instance, it could help drivers navigate in unfamiliar areas and alert them to congested roads and suggest alternatives.

Dr Chin said that Singapore hopes to be the first in the world to use the new system, adding that the LTA ‘hopes to proceed without having to have another trial’.

London is another city which has been looking at implementing a similar scheme.

Although Germany uses a GPS-based toll system, it is only for billing heavy trucks on the autobahn.

christan@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 7th February 2008



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