Singapore will use satellites to track traffic congestion and calculate how much toll drivers should pay for travelling during peak hours.

Drivers will be charged for how far they travel on busy roads to reduce congestion in the city. The satellites could be used to charge tolls on any roads in Singapore, and would allow the government to charge new roads as congestion patterns change.

The government already uses an electronic road pricing system. These are based on physical gantries placed over congested roads and charge drivers based on the time of the day, rather than how long they travel. This means that a driver travelling 500 metres and another travelling 5 kilometres get charged the same toll when they pass under the gantry.

“Since introduction, the road pricing system has been effective in managing traffic congestion. The next-generation road pricing system will allow us to improve on this, with greater flexibility,” said Chew Men Leong, CEO of the Land Transport Authority.

The existing gantry system is also nearly 20 years old and the infrastructure is becoming more expensive to maintain, the agency added.

The new satellite-based system will be rolled out from 2020 over 18 months at a cost of S$556 million (US$394.9 million). It will cover the whole of Singapore, with signal beacons placed where there satellite signals are weak.

The new system will also give drivers real-time traffic information and notify them of upcoming toll roads so they can plan another route if they wish.

Cars will be required to replace the existing road pricing receivers with new ones to get this information. They will also be able to use the new device to pay electronically for parking and checkpoint tolls.

Image by Carlos Felipe Pardo, licensed under CC BY 2.0