There was this segment on our local radio show called “5 Things”. It was part of the morning programme at Gold 90.5FM, hosted by DJ Hamish Brown. Every weekday, Hamish would dish out five things about a particular topic, either his own creation (yup, he can be wacky ;-)) or sent in by “Gold” listeners.

Hamish's 5 Things LogoThe tagline from the radio station’s podcast website has this to say: “Hamish’s 5 Things is a tongue in cheek look at anything from politics to celebrity food intake.” Indeed, “5 Things” was usually humorous and often witty, which made driving to work on the oft-crowded roads more bearable. takes you back in time to the year 2007, where I had written Hamish a lengthy Email talking about my 5 things on the CTE. Singaporeans are familiar with the notorious traffic situation on the CTE, or Central Expressway, which is one of the island’s highways. For me and many others, the CTE situation [see footnote] was and still is our pet peeve.

So it was quite opportune when inspiration came knocking that day in August. I had dreamt up six plays on the acronym “CTE”, each describing how motorists viewed the CTE and its attendant traffic issues. To fit “5 Things”, I had to eliminate one.

A few days after I had sent in my contribution, I heard Hamish talk about the CTE on Monday morning. That rush from hearing my work on air and how Hamish was having a good time remains quite vivid today. To top it off, that episode of “5 Things” is on archive and available for podcasting.

Listen to my “5 Things on the CTE” by clicking the Play button above (if the audio player is showing).
(Just in case your browser does not play the audio or does not show the audio player,
click this link to reach the podcast     

Here’s a quick recap of my tongue-in-cheek play on the acronym “CTE” in “5 Things”:

  1. Congested Traffic Everyday
    It remains true to this day that we see traffic jams from like 7am to way past 9pm.
  2. Costliest Three Evils
    If you drive from Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 into the CTE towards the city between 8:30am to 9am on weekdays, you’d have to go through 3 electronic road pricing (ERP) gantries. Beep, beep, beep… there goes like 8 bucks…
  3. Charge Them Extra
    Additional ERP gantries have sprung up to “capture” some traffic that seem to contribute to the mess. And we started paying when north bound during weekday evenings too.
  4. Chargeable Time Extended
    It used to be that gantries start their mornings from 7:30am till 9:30am. Nowadays you’d be charged from 7am till 11am on some parts of the CTE.
  5. Comfortable Travel Elusive
    How to expect a smooth ride when you have to jam brakes, move, jam again in the slow crawl? And throw in “expert driving” by some motorists, bad manners and flared tempers…

As you can see, WittyCulus ideas had been much alive years before, but only now have they come online…


To put things into perspective, this was 2007. Right now, for the past many months, parts of the CTE are being upgraded to add extra lanes and reroute traffic. I am quietly hopeful that the “new” CTE will see better traffic flow, which will then rid us of the first and last points above.

However, the other 3 points look set to stay as electronic road pricing (ERP) is unlikely to go away. Maybe one day the authorities will implement some form of volume-based pricing, where ERP rates go up when traffic is heavier, and down when it gets lighter. This will definitely make it more equitable for motorists. Ya, that could happen; remember you heard it first on 😉

Find out more about the CTE and our road systems by visiting the Land Transport Authority (LTA) website.

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