LTA's 'new' ERP 2.0 is a bad idea, and the sooner that is acknowledged and accepted, the better

It's not too late to backtrack with ERP 2.0, but everyone needs to acknowledge that the current 'new' system doesn't work, says contributing editor Aloysius Low.

Processing unit located on driver's side. (Photo: LTA)
Processing unit located on driver's side. (Photo: LTA)

It's not difficult to see how bad the new ERP 2.0 system is. If you haven't yet seen the various videos, such as my personal favourite "Who is the champion who came up with this idea?" on Tiktok, or this silent video review that says just how silly the system is, you should.

After all, I still have no idea why the processing unit, where the cash card is stored, is placed in unreachable spot while I'm in the driver's seat, or require me to perform complex yoga moves to access. You just have to be really flexible if you want to remove the cash card to use a carpark coupon.

Private hire or taxi drivers should hope that there aren't any passengers in the front as well, as it may be awfully awkward to avoid accidental touches.

LTA has said that a software update will be released to let you press a button to disable the payment, but if you choose not to have the optional touchscreen that blocks part of your windscreen as well, then you're probably out of luck.

To be fair, LTA has come out to say you can adjust the position of the processing unit where possible, but that's down to the make of your car. Most of the videos have shown that the only spot possible is on the passenger side of the car (unlike the picture above).

But the whole thing is not as silly as the insistence that this is the next best thing since sliced bread, despite the fact that the specs for ERP 2.0 are almost eight years old.

Not only is the technology obsolete, they likely run hotter due to using older chips with bigger node sizes.

LTA has said that motorists using cars have to stick with a three-part system versus a motorbike's single unit system due to temperatures being hotter inside a car.

Perhaps a newer device made with newer tech would have solved this. But with the rollout already happening and half-a-billion or so spent already, LTA may want to dig in their heels and proceed.

But as Singaporeans, why should we settle for mediocre, when we have always demanded to be the best?

The new ERP 2.0 is mediocre at best, and yet another sign of LTA failing to keep up with tech. The SimplyGo debacle was a prime example of not actually field testing a product adequately, and then having to backtrack after mass criticism.

Just earlier this year, LTA tried to force everyone to switch to SimplyGo by June 1, by telling them their current transit cards will not work past the date. The new cards, called SimplyGo EZ-link or bank cards, did not show the balance in the cards when entering or exiting public transport.

It's a simple thing, but it was an issue that had consumers up in arms. If you wanted to check your balance, you had to download an app. The older system let you know immediately, and obviously felt better for some. And in a rare decision, LTA decided to backtrack on the issue, and would spend an additional S$40 million to allow the old system to continue running in place while it tries to figure things out.

This time around, for ERP 2.0, LTA appears to be using the same playbook as with SimplyGo, continuing to put out statements to defend its decision.

How much backlash will they need before they backtrack? There's already too much of a sunken cost, and unless LTA is willing to throw away the $556 million spent and restart from scratch with a proper system, we're stuck.

Processing unit located on passenger's side. (Photo: LTA)
Processing unit located on passenger's side. (Photo: LTA)

Don't forget too, that LTA has no plans yet to introduce distance based charging, despite it being one of the reasons why ERP 2.0 is being railroaded to users despite its flaws.

With how fast we innovated during the COVID crisis, where we came up with various tech-powered solutions to track vaccination status, entry into public spaces, why can't we come up with an idea that feels modern and works well without fuss?

Here's my contribution: Develop a system that works on your phone and keep the hardware installations to a minimum.

Bonus if it works on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. We have the biggest smartphone penetration rate in the world, so why can't we just rely on hardware that most of us already own that's relatively new?

Would that be too much to ask?

Perhaps LTA needs to find the willpower to make the right decision.

It did with SimplyGo, but will they admit they made yet another mistake? After all, ERP 2.0 is far from what it promised, a "sophisticated, smartphone-sized onboard unit".

Time will tell, and I hope that something happens before I have to install this in my car.

In its current form, it's a stupid system that has no place in our Smart Nation, and the sooner LTA realises it, the better.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at

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