This article was originally on GET.com at: 5 Ways Singapore Government's Initiatives On Car Ownership Have Left Us Confused
Honestly, it's not that every Singaporean is against the well-intentioned vision of car-lite Singapore. Rather, the recent very conflicting announcements and policies regarding cars and car ownership in Singapore have left so many of us baffled and lost. Now, you can't blame us for taking the whole car-lite thing with an enormous heap of salt when things like the surge in COEs and the easing of car loan rules by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and so on keep flooding our newspapers and social media feeds, right?
Here, we at GET.com have put together a list of 5 things the authorities have done regarding car ownership that have left us Singaporeans quite muddled.
5 ways the Government's initiatives on car ownership make us confused
1. Waxing lyrical about car-lite Singapore
While I agree that the ambitious car-lite vision is something pretty noble in nature, I wish the authorities could be more realistic about it. Purporting that 75 per cent of trips in Singapore will be commuted via our seemingly improving public transportation system in the next 14 years or so seems a bit too audacious.
Cars in Singapore don't come cheap at all. In my humblest opinion, one needs to be considerably well off in order to 'feed' a car and tackle the high costs of living despite coming up tops as the costliest city in the world again.
Constantly showcasing how awesome car-lite Sundays are in certain parts of Singapore doesn't boost the general populace's confidence in achieving the bold goal, either.
Most working adults do not work on Sundays. Trying something revolutionary like car-lite Mondays might give us a better idea of how this really works on days with a larger amount of traffic.
For those who're curious, here's my take on why Singaporeans may not like car-lite Singapore at all.
2. Raising car park charges
Even if you don't drive, you must have heard the most recent blast of news that parking in Singapore is going to become more expensive, starting from December 2016.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority just announced a press release illustrating the changes in rates for short-term and season parking at HDB and public car parks in Singapore.
Well, the authorities put forth that this initiative to make parking more expensive is to curb car ownership in Singapore. They underscored that families who own more than one car will be hit harder, in line with their original intention of trying to make Singaporeans give up their cars.
Wait a minute, the majority of Singaporeans live in HDB flats, and nothing has been mentioned about carpark charges for those who live in private properties. The rich and wealthy are the ones who have more than enough money to buy multiple cars in Singapore without getting penalized for parking since they probably have several garages to house their automobiles.
After all, who can forget that politician who remarked that 'everybody has a car, we have two - my wife drives one, I drive one'?
3. Making it a lot more appealing for people to take up car loans
The move to ease car loan rules by MAS is the ultimate contradiction for the car-lite vision the government is rooting for.
Increasing the borrowing limit to 70 per cent of purchase price, up from 60 per cent, and extending car loan tenures to a maximum of 7 years, up from the previous 5 years doesn't sound like good moves to drive down the demand for cars in Singapore. In fact, this may do the exact opposite by driving up the demand for cars in Singapore.
Need I say more?
4. Allowing COE prices to climb
Nobody can drive without at COE in Singapore, so why not just clamp down on the number of COEs that are put out for bidding?
Technically, if the authorities slash the supply of COEs available for bidding over time, the number of vehicles we see on our jam-packed roads will have to fall.
Even if COE prices do go through the roof and become even more exorbitant than they already are, more people will have to give up their cars because we simply won't be able to afford driving anymore.
And in case you haven't been keeping up with the news, COE premiums across all car categories have risen after the latest tender. Those pertaining to cars rose by almost 17 per cent in June!
5. Building more and more roads
The biggest upcoming project by the Land Transport Authority is the hyped North-South Corridor. This expressway is said to be integrated with dedicated bus lanes and cycling routes.
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that more roads translate into a greater capacity to accommodate more cars.
Talking about curbing car ownership is one thing, but going around things to allow for more cars is something else.
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