ERP2.0 and the Sunken Cost Fallacy

My prediction: the ERP2.0 will become a case study of the sunken cost fallacy like the Concorde.

I’ll also posit that the ERP2.0 is DOA.

Too little and too late.

From this LTA post (the relevant portion from that link is shown below), it comes with a touchscreen, be able to provide traffic info, toll info etc.

What Motorists Can Expect

6.             The touchscreen display will provide motorists with ERP-related information (e.g., ERP charges and card balance), as well as road and traffic updates, such as the locations of Silver Zones, School Zones, speed cameras and bus lanes.

7.             In the future when all vehicles have transitioned to ERP 2.0, the touchscreen display can support additional features such as real time traffic alerts (e.g., road or lane closures, accidents, or heavy traffic), payment of roadside parking and tolls at the checkpoints (Singapore-registered cars only).

8.             Motorists are strongly encouraged to install all three OBU components to access the full range of features, such as paying for roadside parking. However, LTA has also considered public feedback to cater to motorists who wish to opt out of installing the touchscreen display. These motorists will be able to access key OBU information via compatible mobile applications[4] on their smartphones instead. In addition, LTA has released a software development kit (SDK) to allow software developers to develop handphone applications that integrate and display ERP 2.0 data, such as key charging and traffic information[5]. In releasing the SDK, we have put in place strict security safeguards such as ensuring that applications can only receive aforementioned key ERP information from the OBU in a one-way manner, but they will not be able to read other data or make any changes to the data.

Tools like Waze give a lot more than the stated benefits of ERP2.0. How many of us will bother to use the info from the ERP2.0 display instead of that from their mobile phone traffic applications? The LTA suggests that there are APIs, via an SDK, to allow developers to access it. Yup, that’s a feature that will never be breached.

How would the device be updated? Via the API or via the ERP2.0 app or some other means? What if there is a flaw in the device that, because it came via the mobile phone, bricks the device? How would that be managed?

It is hard enough that we have mobile phones that have no way to be updated (because they have been obsoleted by the phone vendors) and this ERP2.0 is expected to be in use for the life of the vehicle – like 10 years. How many of us have a functioning mobile phone that is more than 5 years old?

In 2016, it was reported that a tender was awarded at the cost of $556million to build ERP2.0.

The announcement then said that it will have distance-based charging. Fast forward to the 2023 announcement, that rationale is not going to be fulfilled – just yet.

It looks to me that the LTA/Ministry of Transport decision makers are experiencing the sunken cost fallacy.

There are plenty of questions that need to be asked about the need for such a system given that the original justification and premise is not being met.

Based on the information here, the touchscreen display is encouraged to be installed because:

You are strongly encouraged to install the free Touchscreen Display so as to:

  • Access the full suite of charging-related information and traffic alerts.
  • Seamlessly pay for your roadside parking in the future.
  • Be able to control the volume of OBU alerts.”

I’ve been using the application for paying for parking as it is. Will that be deprecated in favour of this ERP2.0 model?

How many software systems does the government intend to operate to just pay for parking? Is that best use of tax dollars?

I am seeing the signs and symptoms of the sunken cost fallacy with this ERP2.0 rollout.

Let’s pause and take a hard re-look. We are NOT in a hurry for now.

What we have to address is the outrageous cost of the Certificate of Entitlement.

When the COE was first introduced, I did propose to the LTA that it has to be on the basis of pay-as-you-bid. It was not accepted. The COE system is being gamed and clearly it is broken in many places. It needs to be revised and reviewed.

In the meantime, I will stick to using the world class public transport.

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