Authorities to go ahead with on-board unit for new ERP system
The public feedback is that the on-board unit (OBU) to be installed in vehicles next year is too bulky, but the authorities will go ahead with the device, even as they continue to explore how to make it better, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said yesterday.
One reason is that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is contractually bound to the OBU design after awarding the tender in 2016, so it cannot make alterations without incurring extra costs.
LTA, however, will offer vehicle owners a few options to gather feedback on, for instance, what is to be shown on the OBU touchscreen display.
"For example, the display can be kept black most of the time, and display ERP charges paid only when a transaction is effected," she said in Parliament.
"As a possible future upgrade, LTA is also studying whether information from the OBU can be pushed to our smartphones, which can then be used as the display screen instead."
Dr Khor was responding to MPs, including Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) and Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), who had indicated the larger screen of the new OBU could be a distraction to drivers and had asked whether it could be replaced by smartphones.
The new OBU for cars, to be installed from the second half of next year, comprises an antenna, a touchscreen display to be mounted near the windscreen and a processing unit to be installed under the dashboard.
It will be compatible with the new Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system that will be switched on in the middle of 2023, to replace the existing ERP infrastructure, which has been in operation for 22 years.
Dr Khor said the current ERP system is getting increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain, and so "there is an urgency, a need to implement the next-gen ERP" without introducing further changes that could upset the timeline.
"So what we want is to ensure a smooth installation of the next-gen ERP and to do this, the display unit will (first) be a standard issue.
"We also need time to work with the contractors and the consultants to come up with the programme to be able to push OBU specific data to the mobile app."
The first OBU will be given free for existing Singapore-registered vehicles and more details on its installation will be given later.