Go car-lite? Have proper infrastructure in place first

The Centre for Liveable Cities and the Urban Land Institute seem to believe that depriving car owners of cheap and easy parking at workplaces is the silver bullet for achieving a car-lite Singapore ("Want to go car-lite? 'Slam brakes on cheap, easy parking' "; Tuesday).

I am appalled at such a recommendation. Surely such high-powered panels can be expected to be more creative.

A car is a depreciating asset, and the cost of owning one is extremely high, given the steep certificate of entitlement prices, Electronic Road Pricing charges and parking charges.

Despite these negative factors, there has been no let-up in car ownership.

There are three groups of car owners:

One, those who love cars and can afford them, where parking charges and other cost items are not a deterrent.

Two, those whose livelihood requires owning a car.

Three, the in-between group, which forms the bulk of owners. People in this group have the highest propensity to give up their cars, if there is a viable alternative.

Singaporeans are largely pragmatic. If they can trade car ownership for affordable, accessible and efficient public transportation, many would.

But we have not given them a viable alternative to give up their cars.

Our public transport and infrastructure for cycling and other personal mobility devices are still works in progress.

Until these are ready, the inconvenience of commuting will encourage people to keep their cars.

Planners and advocates of liveable cities must not continue to take the path of least resistance by recommending punitive measures without considering the need to have the proper infrastructure in place. This is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Go car-lite? Have proper infrastructure in place first'. Print Edition | Subscribe