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Artificially raising cost of owning a car not the way to go

The Government should be cautious in approaching a plan to make it challenging to own a car, such as raising the cost of parking and reducing the availability of parking spaces ("Make it inconvenient to drive a car" by Mr Abdul Malek Mohamed Ali; last Sunday).

We must be careful about the effect such policies can have on society's standard of living, societal satisfaction and happiness.

In Hong Kong, there are surcharges for all revenue-generating tolls, including cross-harbour tunnels and parking spaces.

But this has led to unintended outcomes, such as the purchase of parking spaces as investments.

This will only lead to higher prices that hurt those who are less wealthy but need private transport.

There could also be more stress if the alternative - public transport - is unable to provide a satisfactory experience.

We should not artificially raise the cost of owning a car.

Rather, the Government should focus on providing more alternatives and making these alternatives viable and attractive.

At the same time, society should be provided with information about the true costs of car ownership, so a more balanced decision can be reached.

In the final analysis, we should let the individual exercise greater autonomy and allow the logic of informed rationality to prevail.

Tan Aik Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 16, 2016, with the headline 'Artificially raising cost of owning a car not the way to go'. Print Edition | Subscribe