Thursday, 11 February 2016

Jakarta ERP (congestion charging) update: GPS under consideration

I've written several times about the plans for Jakarta to have what it called ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) very much modelled on the Singaporean approach.  There is broad political agreement of the merit of introducing charging on existing roads to manage congestion, to replace the current high occupancy rule (a minimum 3 occupants) for certain main roads.  That system gets abused as people offer themselves "for hire" to make up the numbers on roads approaching the "HOV road" zones.   After trials it was intended that the first stage of an operational system would be in place this year, with the law having already been amended to allow for its implementation.

Jakarta embarked on a trial of two DSRC systems, one with Kapsch and another with Q-Free reported here.  One of the big issues was non-standard number plates being difficult for ANPR cameras and systems to recognise.  

The two trial DSRC charging gantries are in place at Jl Jenderal Sudirman and Jalan Rasuna Said (installed by Kapsch and Q-Free respectively).

Jakarta ERP trial corridors
In October 2015 it was reported in Tempo that the Jakarta Governor was considering moving beyond DSRC type technology and embracing GPS systems to trial for the proposed electronic road pricing scheme.    His chief concern is the cost of installing gantries vs. installing GPS based OBUs, saying that each gantry costs 1 billion rupiah (US$73,000), implying it would be cheaper to implement distance based charging.  

So now it appears the programme has been delayed not least because of the Governor's interest in investigating the viability of using GPS technologies, but also because of concerns over how enforceable the system would be with the current generation of number plates in Indonesia.  The Jakarta Post reported a month ago that implementation has been delayed until 2017 with a decision on supplier by the end of 2016 (a rather short implementation time which would tend to preclude a large scale implementation geographically.  

The minimum charge is expected to be 30,000 Rupiah (US$2.21) to use charged roads at peak times. 

Proposed Jakarta congestion charging / ERP routes
The Google Earth image above depicts the routes proposed for full implementation of congestion pricing, covering major inner city corridors.

I said it's about number plates!

The Governor was quoted as saying:  “The main obstacle is legal enforcement — how to catch vehicles with non-Jakarta STNK [vehicles registration fee documentation] that violate the ERP. However, I think it will be easy to monitor it through closed-circuit television [CCTV]".  

So the issue is having number plates that are non-Jakarta issued, which is really about access to databases for others.  Yet he is wrong to say it can be monitored through CCTV reliably or cheaply.  CCTV is not ANPR, and would be unlikely to deliver the clarity of resolution for effective enforcement.  

I had highlighted number plates and databases for number plates as an issue on this blog a few years ago.  Indonesia (like many other countries) needs to establish key enablers for such systems, which includes either mandating electronic vehicle ID or having a number plate system that can be detected and corresponds with a high level of accuracy to the names and addresses of vehicle owners to allow for enforcement.

Unless tolling tags or even GPS units are mandated for all vehicles on Java, Jakarta will need some form of number plate recognition to enforce congestion pricing.  This means three key measures:

1. Standardise number plates across Java.  This may mean taking time to replace existing ones, but if the state and the country are to move towards electronic free flow tolling and congestion pricing, this will be essential.  

2. Update and check databases of vehicle owners, addresses/contact details to number plates.  Again, this is no small exercise, but is a key enabler to ensure reliable, consistent enforcement.

3. Implement ANPR technology with robust processes to encourage compliance and effectively enforce, trialling it first through electronic free flow tolls on existing toll roads.

Start with free flow tolls

Jakarta has an extensive network of toll roads, all with manual tolls and barrier operated electronic tolls.  It would be an appropriate first step that would deliver enormous benefits in removing bottlenecks at toll booths, and be a good trial of the technology for enforcement and for ERP/congestion pricing.  Of course free flow tolls on their own wont relieve congestion in Jakarta, but it will change the efficiency of using tolling for future projects, and make it easier to implement ERP/congestion pricing.

I would urge Jakarta to implement measures such as I suggest above to address the number plate issue, and to proceed with a programme that trials and introduces electronic free flow tolls on existing toll roads, in parallel to trialling GPS based units as an alternative.  Given the success in several European countries, and now in Oregon and New Zealand in using such technology for charging, it seems appropriate and timely for Jakarta to consider technology that could give it much more flexibility with ERP.

Where to now

Jakarta has already tendered for a system, but has not announced how many bidders there are.  In November 2015, Sindonews reported (Indonesian only) that the Financial and Asset Management Agency (BPKAD) had called for there not to be rushed implementation of ERP.

I'd urge a need to address the key enablers (particular around number plates) and pilot the use of GPS before embarking on an expensive programme of gantry installation, and make conversion of existing toll roads to fully electronic free flow tolling a good - real life- pilot with users.  For the trial already undertaken in Jakarta was controlled and focused on technology, not on feedback from users.

If Jakarta is going to transform congestion management, it needs to get ERP right, first time and not face protests, disruption or mass non-compliance.  There is no shame or disgrace in piloting it through existing toll roads, with free flow technology and applying time of day pricing on those toll roads.  Meanwhile, consider that Singapore is now considering how to move from tag and beacon technology to GNSS technology.  You can leapfrog Singapore's current ERP as long as you take the time to plan and pilot it right.

1 comment:

  1. If they are going for gps based charging, it would be possible to charge based on travel time - a charge proportional to the difference between the actual time and the free-flow time is as close as you can get to the economically optimum toll. (you charge k*(actual time-free flow time) with k set to keep traffic flowing at capacity. You could do it with a smart phone app that worked on the same principles as the Uber app. As for non-standard plates, the heavy way to do it is to have some strategic old-style toll booths that you can drive through if your plates are recognised, but will stop you to pay the toll (plus an administration fee) if they are not.