Singapore may be on the road to fewer cars

I agree with Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi that weaning Singaporean drivers off their cars may be an uphill battle ("Tough to break bond between man and car"; Monday).

But we can appeal to the younger generation to not embark on car ownership. 

That cars are integral to the American Dream may have more to do with needs rather than wants.

As observed by Professor Kishore Mahbubani, "it makes sense that cars are integral to American life, where spaces are vast and there is so much land" ("The road to a car-less Singapore"; Dec 12).

Americans have no choice but to rely on cars because there are often few viable alternatives to get around the nation's sprawling suburbs.

However, in places such as New York City - or more specifically, the city's Manhattan borough - with its comprehensive subway system and other forms of public transport, significantly fewer people drive.

Singapore's burgeoning system of trains, buses and taxis mirrors that of New York City, and it is a matter of time before our train network reaches the majority of Singaporeans, making it more seamless and less painful to use public transport.

I am looking forward to the completion of the Downtown Line 3, of which a station will be within walking distance of my home.

This will make it more convenient for my family to take public transport instead of drive.

The younger generation does have what it takes to be creative in terms of transport needs.

For example, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) undergraduates launched a bicycle-sharing system, as there are no shuttle buses to the SUTD campus from the Expo MRT station ("Tired of the hikes, students share bikes"; Monday).

As for Singaporeans' obsession with cars as status symbols, again, the younger generation may be less enamoured of them.

In associate opinion editor Lydia Lim's commentary ("Singapore's shifting values"; Dec 13), she highlighted the younger generation's shift to a post-materialist stance, which "emphasises self-expression, quality of life and other non-material values over economic and physical security".

They are also influencing their elders to adopt a less materialistic outlook.

Schools can also inculcate in students the harm to the environment caused by having too many cars on the roads and their contribution to global warming - not to mention the amount of money they can save by forgoing cars altogether.

With myriad push factors, we can strive to be less dependent on car ownership in the future. 

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore may be on the road to fewer cars'. Print Edition | Subscribe