Monday, February 11, 2008

We are Singaporeans!

The most dreadful thing a driver can see on a Singapore road these days is not an accident. We got insurance and airbags to cover both damages and safety.

As a new driver to Singapore, I'd begun to feel the pinch of paying the local road use toll charges on Expressways and entering the City. The word "City" in Singapore is used ambiguously. On one hand, most would recognise Singapore itself as a city as it is too small. To locals, City will mean the shopping belt and hotels area.

To prevent congestion, The Land Transport Authority has implemented Toll Collection aka Electronic Road Pricing [ERP] for vehicles entering the "City" area. This makes sense as it reduces traffic jam in the shopping area where we get the bulk of overseas tourists visiting. Singapore doesn't want to portray itself as like Bangkok with severe traffic issues.

Next, the expressways are also in the ERP scheme, having motorists to pay for smooth traffic to go to work in the morning. Now that makes sense as most expressways converge in the city area anyway.

In short, motorists would have to pay toll charges for entering City or using expressways to get to work. This also prevents motorists from travelling through the city to reach their destinations. Motorists will then have to detour by another road in order not to pay toll and the result was achieved, easing the traffic in the city.

Next, short notices were given that even on the route back from work, to homes in HDB heartland, ERP gantries will be installed. Not much explanation were given, other than to reduce traffic on the expressways. White and blue collar still went home, however, if your home is along places such as Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Yishun, Woodlands, you will most likely have to go through CTE and passing "several" toll gantries along the way. That will mean that if you are to drive home before 8pm, your journey will be more expensive than others living in areas such as Bedok or Tampines.

Funny how the incumbent Government is trying to promote family lifestyle and having more babies. Not sure if the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Transport are in sync with each other in the direction which the country is headed.

Now right in 2008, the LTA has announced even more gantries, it seems the city limits have been stretched to even places like Kallang and Boon Keng, which surprisingly have zero malls. When ERP was implemented for the expressways, to head to places near to the city, it appears that most motorist will avoid taking the expressway and thus travel the old routes [old days prior to the construction of the expressways] and this means travelling across places like Kallang, Lavendar, Boon Keng, Geylang.

There is no doubt that with the initial implementation of ERP on expressways, the traffic will detour via the roads going around the expressways. And now, the reason of implementing the new ERP gantries around these routes is the same. To "ease" traffic congestion. You can already expect the response from the motorists. However, as Singaporeans as tame and obedient, the response was not great enough for the authorities to reconsider their decision. Well, the people making decisions are ultimately chosen and elected by the public whom deem them as good decision makers.

So I quote my opinion from an engineering point of view based loosely on the Venturi Effect.

The law of fluid dynamics states that for an incompressible fluid, the rate of flow for the entrance and exit as it goes through a passage has to remain the same. Blocking or restricting the entrance or exit will only result in slower flow.

Imagine the fluid passing through a tube, blocking the exit will result in build of of pressure and also will reduce the rate of flow. If pressure is large enough, the tube will then break and the fluid will naturally flow out via the cracks. And at the cracks more blockage is also implemented. There seems no clear funnel for the traffic to go to with these gantries. ie I haven't got the faintest clue where LTA expect the traffic to go.

It just seems another method to collect revenue where ever possible without much obligations to the people whom had elected them. The backbone of the economy is based on the workforce. Sadly, Singapore is a place with zero natural resources. With cost of personal transport and public transport growing and totally out of sync with the manner which the income is rising, a big build up of pressure and a major slowdown is expected.

And when the pressure is big enough, there is only one imminent and inevitable result.

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