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Control numbers on basis that cars complement public transport system

If we follow Mr Abdul Malek Mohamed Ali's advice ("Make it inconvenient to drive a car"; Oct 9), more people, especially those from the middle class, would logically be forced to give up their cars and use public transport.

But can we say confidently that our public transport system would be able to cope with this surge in ridership? I believe not, given the transport woes that have plagued us for the last five years.

Mr Peter Loon Seng Chee ("Ditch cars? Plug gaps in public transport first"; Oct 9) was right to say that the authorities should take into consideration the current imperfect status of the public transport system when considering any future curbs.

However, it is unrealistic to expect the Government not to control the car population now solely because of this. A perfect public transport system, capable of satisfying the needs and expectations of the whole social strata, may not be achievable in the foreseeable future, if at all.

Mr Loon further proposed that certain categories of car owners, such as the elderly or families with children, be exempted from car ownership curbs, citing comfort as a key reason.

Would this be fair to other drivers who need a car for equally important reasons, such as work?

A needs-based car allocation system, unfortunately, would not work. The bureaucracy required to evaluate and enforce these needs would be too onerous to maintain.

The pragmatic approach is to recognise that cars complement the public transport system.

The key is not to eliminate or drastically reduce their number but to control it, taking into account the current status of the public transport system and the economic impact on livelihoods.

Sim Eng Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Control numbers on basis that cars complement public transport system'. Print Edition | Subscribe