After being away from Singapore for a few months last year, I returned to discover a new ERP gantry, sprung up like a mushroom after the rain, right at the spot I usually enter the AYE. I secretly congratulated myself on having quit my job in the CBD before the new gantry had been activated. Those who take the AYE have been hardest hit thanks to the efforts of the dear LTA, but ERP rates have risen across the board. There’s no escape. Here are some ways to minimise how much you pay on ERP, other than waiting by the side of the road for the ERP to get switched off.
1. Buy an ERP-avoiding GPS
If you regularly use a GPS to navigate aSingapore, you’ll be pleased to know that Garmin has come up with a new GPS software that helps you save costs on ERP Instead of planning the shortest, most convenient route for you, the GPS can now plan the cheapest. This might mean going round in circles just to avoid that one gantry, but since you would probably otherwise be stuck in traffic anyway, we say it’s worth it.
2. Plan your route on gothere.sg
I’m one of those people who would probably never leave the house if gothere.sg didn’t exist. The website tells you how to get from one location in Singapore to another, and also shows you how much you have to pay in ERP fees. Just select the little graphic of the car and tick the box that says “Minimize ERP”. You can also zoom in on the gantries on the map and click them to find out how much they charge at various times during the day.
3. Optimise the routes you normally take
Trying to keep track of how much you could potentially be charged by each ERP gantry is like trying to memorise the periodic table in Russian. But there are certain routes that you take on a near-daily basis, such as that from home to your workplace, and you can save quite a bit each month by optimising them. I’m always surprised at how many people don’t bother checking the rates for ERP gantries they pass through every single day.
First, get the timetables for the ERP gantries you normally pass through on gothere.sg or OneMotoring, and then check when would be the cheapest times to travel within reason. For example, let’s say you work at Raffles Place and exit the CTE at Merchant Road at 8:55am, paying $2.50. Going through the same gantry just 5 minutes later, at 9am, will save you 50 cents. If you pass through between 8am and 8:30am or 9:30am and 10am you only pay $1.
Not only do you save quite a bit of money that adds up as the days turn into weeks, months and years, you also get to avoid the 9am crush and hence spend less time stuck on the road. Based on the above you might decide to come in to work a little earlier or later than your colleagues. If you’re the kind of person who does OT without fail every single day, coming in earlier is probably a smart move.
None of the above is rocket science, but you’d be surprised how most people consider the ERP charges they pay to be determined by fate—if you have to pay it, it’s meant to be and there’s nothing you can do to save yourself. Here are some further tips for those who are determined to save even more.
Run errands on Sundays – When you’re in two minds about running errands in the city area on either Saturday or Sunday, always pick Sunday because there are no ERP charges. You might also be able to get free parking at some HDB estates on Sundays.
If you work in the CBD, take the MRT to after-work appointments nearby – Those who drive to work in the CBD area will know that when you’re trying to get out of Raffles Place via Esplanade Drive, you’re forced to pay ERP charges after 6pm. I used to try to sneak out of the office at 5:50pm and then rush to the gantries before 6. Those were nail-biting moments. If you have an appointment at nearby areas like Bugis, City Hall or Orchard Road, taking the bus or MRT might save you more overall. Although the ERP charges are only $0.50 to $1, you’ll end up paying much more in parking, whereas by leaving your car in the CBD you don’t pay anything more if you already have season parking.
Use the park and ride scheme – The park and ride scheme, which lets you park at certain HDB car parks en route to work and then take the MRT the rest of the way, can save you quite a lot of money overall since you won’t have to pay for season parking in the CBD and also get to save on ERP. If you pay $5 a day in ERP charges to drive to Raffles Place and season parking is $350, you spend $450 a month in all. On the other hand, under the park and ride scheme you only have to pay $3 a day in parking charges. Riding the MRT from Clementi to Raffles Place and back again at the end of the day would cost $2.42. Your total cost would be around $110, yielding monthly savings of over $300.
How do you avoid paying exorbitant amounts when you drive to work? Let us know in the comments!