In the field of transportation, road pricing or congestion pricing has long been associated with Singapore. Indeed, road pricing started in Singapore in June 1975. Many changes have been made to the road pricing scheme since that time. Initially, a manual scheme based on paper permits and applicable during the morning peak period only, it has evolved over the past 27 years to an electronic version that operates almost throughout the day presently.
Road pricing is an important component of Singapore’s overall transportation strategy. While road capacity continues to be increased judiciously to meet rising travel demand, the strategy also calls for greater reliance on public transport usage and demand management. One aspect of demand management is the restraint of vehicle ownership, either through the imposition of high upfront ownership costs or restriction on the actual growth of the car population. The former type includes the custom duties and vehicle registration fees, which amounted to almost one-and-a-half times that of the car’s open market value, while the latter is managed through a Vehicle Quota System. The other aspect of demand management is the restraint of vehicle usage through the levy a charge on motorists based on the quantity, place or time of the use of their vehicles. Generally, the more one uses his car the more one has to pay. The road pricing schemes, petrol tax, diesel duty, and parking charges are measures in this category.
One of the goals set out in the demand management strategy of Singapore is to move away from relying predominantly on vehicle ownership costs, to one of a better balance between it and usage costs. The resulting system would be a fairer and more equitable one. This paper looks at Singapore’s experiences with road pricing over the past years, from the manual scheme to the current electronic one.