Could Singapore’s traffic solution help Kauai?

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (Anonymous). With that in mind, I beg to respectfully differ with Gary Hooser’s position on Kauai traffic as expressed in The Garden Island Forum on Oct. 18. He wrote, ”The best thing we can do to solve our traffic problem is to do nothing.”

I understand that his article opener was tongue-in-cheek. Mr. Hooser went on to skilfully nuance his statement, with powerful arguments and workable solutions. But he neglected to present one highly effective traffic management system developed by Singapore: Electronic Road Pricing (ERP).

“Singapore was the first city in the world to manage road congestion by implementing an Electronic Road Pricing system. ERP has since been used as a reference by other cities like London.” This quote and excerpted information below is taken directly from the Singapore Government Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/ content/ltaweb/en/ roads-and-motoring/managing- traffic-and-congestion/electronic- road-pricing-erp.html

What is ERP?

ERP is an Electronic Road Pricing System used in managing road congestion. Based on a pay-as-you-use principle, motorists are charged when they use priced roads during peak hours.

ERP rates vary for different roads and time periods depending on local traffic conditions. This encourages motorists to change their mode of transport, travel route or time of travel.

What are its benefits?

• Minimizes traffic volume in heavily used roads.

• Optimizes usage of the road network by encouraging motorists to consider alternatives.

• Provides a fair price for motorists. Charges are based on usage — those who use the roads pay more, while those who use the roads less frequently or who travel during non-ERP hours pay less or don’t need to pay at all.

• No human error. ERP’s reliable and fully automated system operates 24 hours. Its central computer system ensures gantries are always working properly.

To restate, how ERP works (in my own words):

ERP works in some respects like automatic toll roads. Vehicles are equipped with card readers that are scanned at toll booth drive-through (no-stop) lanes. Drivers are then charged monthly fees based on how many times they use the toll road.

The difference with ERP is that the card readers (on gantries over the road) are placed strategically at places of entry into high-traffic areas. As noted above, during peak hours, charges change to take into account traffic volumes. Basically, drivers are charged significant amounts to drive into roads during congested traffic times. Drivers are charged less to drive into such areas when traffic is lighter.

The Singapore ERP system is more complex, of course, than I have briefly presented here. The Singapore Government Land Transport Authority website cited above has full details. Implementing ERP here on Kauai is certainly within the range of possibility. I believe it would be much, much better than “doing nothing.”

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The Rev. Dr. Barry Mick is a resident of Kapaa.

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