Singapore first to implement GPS tolling for all vehicles reports that Singapore will likely be the first place to implement variable rate, GPS based road pricing for all vehicles. They are currently testing a system that will replace the current card-reading transponder system to one more customer friendly and similar to North American, European, and Australian technologies.

The Singapore toll accounts (called ERP for Electronic Road Pricing) will be managed by a local bank – DBS Bank. Motorists wanting to establish a toll account will have to fill out a form on-line at one of two websites giving details of their vehicle, their transponder (called an IU or In-vehicle Unit in Singapore), address and other details. They’ll pay $1.70/month (S$2.50) for managing their toll account.

More importantly, this will be the first large scale implementation of variable rate pricing for all vehicles with the express purpose of managing the road network more efficiently. The primary goal is not revenue maximization.

Since 2005 the LTA [Land Transport Authority] has been sponsoring developing and tests of GPS or satellite location finding for road pricing – what they call assisted GPS or differential GPS that use supplementary locational signals to compensate for erratic satellite signal accuracy. They compare this with standard digital mapping or GIS. They report accuracies of 30m (100ft). By one account accuracy of the best systems is regarded as adequate 90% of the time on expressways in open areas, but only 30% of the time in dense city streets where satellite signals are distorted by large buildings in what is referred to as the urban canyon effect. Singapore officials have said they expect to be the first to deploy GPS units for road pricing of all vehicles (Germany has tolled trucks with GPS units since 2005).

Here’s a quick summary of the history of Singapore’s road pricing strategy:

1975 area licensing for 725ha (2.8 sq mile) central city called the Restricted Zone in which vehicles had to display a monthly decal to enter in peak hours 1995 transponders used on East Coast Parkway 1998 Sept – beginning of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) Tolls are collected at about 70 toll points which are highway speed all-electronic covering most one direction of traffic. There are usually a pair of heavy faced gantries carrying the readers and cameras, and mounting signs.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.