Singapore’s car-lite policy reduces car ownership to one-third, down from 40% in 2013

Source : PTI | Singapore has witnessed a decline in car owners, with approximately one-third of households owning automobiles in the city-state, down from 40 % in 2013, as the government progresses towards transforming the country into a car-lite society, a senior minister said on Monday. The government also aims to have 75 % of peak-period journeys made on public transport by 2030, via the expansion of the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) network, up from the current 64 %, The Straits Times newspaper reported.

Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat told Parliament that it is “not tenable” for Singapore’s vehicle population to keep increasing, “with one million vehicles, including more than 650,000 cars, now on the roads”.

Singapore’s population is 5.92 million and the main economically prosperous city island is 710 sq km.

Chee said around one-third of Singaporean and permanent resident households own cars, down from 40 % in 2013, as the government nudges the country towards being a car-lite society.

The minister also reiterated the need for a zero-vehicle growth policy to manage traffic congestion in land-scarce Singapore.

Under a zero-growth policy, the number of certificates of entitlement (COEs) available for bidding to buy a new car is based on the number of deregistered vehicles.

Responding to questions, Chee said the government’s car-lite strategy focuses on the provision of a mass public transport system, on top of an accessible, inclusive and sustainable land transport system.

Roads now occupy about 12 % of Singapore’s total land, while the land transport system accounts for about 15 % of Singapore’s total domestic carbon emissions, he stressed.

In tandem with the zero-vehicle growth policy, the government has taken other measures to increase the use of less carbon-intensive modes of transport.

A journey made on an electric bus produces only 30 % of the carbon emission levels produced by an internal combustion engine vehicle, while that of an MRT ride drops to only 10 %, compared with that of an internal combustion engine vehicle, said Chee.

Hence, the government provides more than SGD 2 billion worth of annual public transport subsidies, which translates to subsidies of more than SGD 1 per journey.

With a 40 % expansion of the public transport network through an additional 100km increase in the rail network by 2035, 80 % of households will be within a 10-minute walk from an MRT or LRT station (light rapid transit) by the next decade, up from the current 70 %, Chee said.

Additionally, to serve the needs of commuters who do not own cars, first- and last-mile options – such as walking and cycling – and access to point-to-point services offered by taxis, private-hire vehicles and car-sharing vehicles are being further improved, he said.