Solving ERP problem using Dash.net

By | August 6, 2008

I am going to propose a new replacement for ERP(road congestion Control) although I am pretty sure that this will just be a mental exercise.

Dash.net GPS

First, lets explain what Dash.net is:
Dash.net is a car-GPS navigation manufacturer. What differentiates their product is the 2 way connectivity of their GPS set. This means that data(i.e. your current speed) is collected and filed on the server. Other drivers who are planning a trip/on a trip that might be using the route you are on has access to the speed and their GPS set can determine if route A(Your Route) or B(another alternative route) might be faster.

“Flow data vs. Incident data

Freeway breakdowns and auto accidents are nice to know about, but what really matters is the speed of traffic around them. Most GPS devices that show traffic rely primarily on ‘incident data,’ which only tells you where and when an incident happened, not how it’s affecting traffic now. Dash uses traffic flow data to help make Dash arrival times the most accurate on the road.”(translation: your GPS will tell you to take the routes that are the least congested and the fastest)

Secondly lets examine ERP’s aims and its method of reliving road congestion:

“Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is an electronic system of road pricing based on a pay-as-you-use principle. It is designed to be a fair system as motorists are charged when they use the road during peak hours.

After the review, the ERP rates would then be adjusted where necessary to minimise congestion on the roads. ERP has been effective in maintaining an optimal speed range of 45 to 65 km/h for expressways and 20 to 30 km/h for arterial roads.”

How ERP works is by shifting demand on roads in 2 ways. Time of travel and route of travel.

How Dash.net can also solve
1) Time of travel
This is actually pretty difficult to solve. Most trips do not have flexibility of time. If you have to get to work or meet a client at 10am, the ERP cost isn’t going to deter you from going down.

I chanced upon a blog and the following suggestions would effectively spread road demand over time.

I) Stagger Work hours
II)Work from Home
III) Spread out the CBD to other areas

I am pretty sure that it is unlikely any form of technology can solve the social behavior of having to go to a place at the same time. However the 3 suggestions above can lend a helping hand to spread demand around.

2) Route of travel
By implementing Dash.net into all SG vehicles, we can effectively divert the route of travel to roads with less demand. Drivers do not have to worry about where and how to drive, instead they just have to follow the GPS directions. Plus, there will be less traffic jams, people get home faster which also means less cars on the roads.

How much will this cost???

Well given that ERP has cost the government USD125 Million, this equates to USD255 per car (489,000 cars in 2007). Right now a Dash.net set cost $299 USD on amazon.com. If the SG government was the order in bulk, I am sure we can get the sets for less than $150USD each. This will make it cost comparative to the current ERP System.

Another Conclusion

Perhaps it is too late to change from the ERP system now. However the lesson that we should learn here is that any project with heavy technological components(I.e. the ERP) should not have its cost amortized over a long period of time. In the period of time, it is likely that a cheaper solution will emerge and make you look stupid for adopting the new technology.