Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ERP Parking Woes

With regards to drivers having problems with their IUs (In-vehicle units), they are not alone. I’ve had my fair share of problems too. Though mine doesn’t happen when i pass through the ERP gantry. So far, all the time when i drive my car into some restricted zone during ERP operating hours, money gets deducted from my cashcard in the IU without any trouble.

I only experience problem whenever i park in car parks that use ERP parking. I can’t exit the car park smoothly as the car park gantry scanner has difficulties detecting and scanning my car’s IU and the cashcard in it. This is despite the fact i always make it a point to keep as far right as possible, right next to the kerb, to maximise the gantry scanner’s ability in picking up the IU with the cashcard inside, in my car. Nonetheless, i have gone through many frustrating experiences time and again where the scanner is not able to pick up my IU and i have had to reverse and forward my car several times before the scanner is finally able to detect, scan my IU and deduct money from my cashcard.

So much for cashless car park payment. In such cases, it would be faster to have a human being to act as a cashier to collect the parking charges from each driver that either enters or exits the car park. Of course, such manual laborers are becoming more and more rare these days. All in the name of automation, much like our driver-less North East Line MRT trains.

I’m all for ERP parking as i do think it is more convenient than having to tear parking coupon(s) and constantly having to worry about not tearing enough coupon(s), thereby resulting in a parking warden dropping by your car to issue you a summon. You can park for as long as you want, without having to worry about parking wardens. Only need to make sure your cashcard has sufficient balance for the scanner to deduct the parking charges from it.

It would be good if operators of ERP car parks would do more to ensure their scanners are able to detect IUs accurately and quickly and deduct the correct amounts from the cashcard each time a driver is exiting the car park. So that he doesn’t need to reverse and forward his vehicle at all, to get the scanner to pick up his IU.

Parking in town is certainly more and more about burning a hole in your wallet these days. I parked at Cairnhill Place just two days ago and was charged a hefty $5.50 amount for parking for slightly over 2 hours. Yup, Cairnhill Place charges $2.00 for 1st hr, $1.50 for next subsequent 1/2hr from 7am to 4.59pm from Monday to Friday.
TODAY Wednesday, 30th April, 2008
Cashcard Troubles?
You're not alone, with more drivers reporting woes at ERP gantries
By Ng Jing Yng
THE next time you drive past an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry, make sure the IU in your car holding the CashCard does beep.
For, a growing number of drivers here are having problems with their CashCards, according to inspection centres and drivers who spoke to Today.
Drivers who fail to get their CashCards read at the gantries will be issued with notification letters by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), requiring them to pay up to $10 each time.
Drivers who have had this problem before told Today that they initially thought it was due to a faulty in-vehicle unit (IU).
But when they sent the IUs for a check at vehicle inspection centres, they were told the problem lay with their CashCards, which are issued by Nets.
Common problems include faulty microchips on the CashCard after being exposed to heat for more than four hours, rust on the microchip and also accidental scratches on the card when a driver takes it in and out for carpark payments.
Today also understands that the problems do not lie with just a particular batch of CashCards - some drivers who bought their CashCards two years ago experienced problems similar to those who bought theirs recently.
Lawyer Mr S Lazim, 40, encountered his first CashCard problem at an ERP gantry three months ago.
Technicians at Vicom, the car inspection and testing centre, later advised him to keep two cards with him at all times to prevent scratches when taking the CashCard in and out of the IU unit.
But despite having a CashCard solely dedicated to the IU, he still had problems as he was driving past the ERP gantry at Prince Edward Road on Monday morning.
"If you want to have a system, make sure its foolproof and not let consumers bear the inconvenience," said Mr Lazim, 40.
Driver David Woo, 58, said he has no problems with the fact that Nets will start charging road users for a $5, non-refundable fee from today for their CashCards, which can last for up to five years.
"If the card is able to last me for the next four years, paying five bucks is reasonable, but now the quality is questionable," added Mr Woo, who had received two notices from the LTA due to CashCard problems in the past two months.
He now buys only the black-coloured version of the CashCards, which are said to be the hardier version.
The CashCard woes have also found their way into forums dedicated to motorists, such as My Car Forum.
One user, "Octaviafan", advises other motorists to keep separate cards for carpark payments while "Mavvy" told drivers to avoid some shopping centre carparks that are known to easily cause scratches on the card.
Checks with some inspection centres indicated that the CashCard problem is something they deal with daily.
At the STA Inspection centre, the number of CashCard cases seen by its technicians has risen from around two in the past to eight cases daily.
However, some drivers believe that the figure could be higher because there are those who would rather pay the fee imposed by the LTA rather than go through the trouble of getting their vehicles inspected to confirm that their CashCards were the source of the problem.
In response to Today's queries, the LTA said CashCard error incidents comprise only 0.
004 per cent - or about 300 cases - out of the ERP transactions each month.
According to the LTA, given the increase in the number of ERP road users, more problems are likely to crop up.
However, it will work closely with Nets if there is indeed an increasing trend of CashCard-related problems.
Relief may be in sight, though, for drivers with CashCard woes.
Come year end, they will have the option of making ERP payments through credit cards and contactless smartcards, such as the ez-link cards.


Blogger Solid Snake said...

"I’m all for ERP parking as i do think it is more convenient than having to tear parking coupon(s)"
I'm more all for parking coupon as i can park there for hours without getting charge about $5.50 for 2 hours parking.

Hmm what about those who stay on a place where there's ERP parking? season parking?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 1:56:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

If you have to park in town using coupon, you have to tear an orange $1 coupon for every 30 minutes of parking. That's $2 per hour and $4 for every 2 hours. Parking in town is just not cheap.

Those who stay in places where there is ERP parking can get season parking disc attached to their screen to enter and exit the car park "freely".

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 3:04:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Solid Snake said...

Haha well I'm not into ERP parking when it comes to the housing estate and suburban[spelling] area.

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 9:43:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

When r u getting your Class 3 license? :D

Friday, May 2, 2008 at 4:42:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Solid Snake said...

It's class 3A as I do not have the time to learn manual transmission car.

Hmm my practical test date falls on 3rd june which is on my common test week. I need to ask my lecturer whether i can take the class test on other day as I have TP on that date otherwise I've to give up 3rd june TP.

Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 12:15:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger 刘皇帝 said...

The only way to solve this issue is to install solar films.

Solar films can help to reduce the interior heat under the sun, thus reducing the possibility of cashcard getting melted in the IU device.

Anyway, who would want to leave their cashcards in the car to attract muggers.

Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 1:10:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

To Solid Snake: All the best for your driving test on 3rd June :D i found out that actually the passing rate of Class 3A is only slightly higher than Class 3 even though there's virtually no way you can ever stall a car with automatic transmission. Isn't it odd? This proves that stalling one's car with manual transmission doesn't really result in heavy penalty during one's driving test.

To Liu Huang Di: Actually, my car does have solar films on all four windows and the front windscreen. Somehow that doesn't really prevent the cashcard from "melting" inside the car's greenhouse. Even the cashcard reader cover does not deter muggers from smashing a windscreen and stealing the cashcard which might not even be in the IU :p

Best is to have an IU which is located beneath the dashboard. Of course the scan-plate must remain attached to the windscreen. But the IU which holds the cashcard should be located away from the prying eyes of confounded muggers. So that these assholes can't see the IU and the cashcard in the car.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 12:18:00 PM GMT+8  

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