Stop expanding road network to discourage driving

It is generally accepted that Singaporeans should start depending less on the car, and last Monday's commentary captures various aspects of the issue ("Can S'pore go car-lite?").

Much money has been spent over the years building expressways, flyovers, underpasses and other road enhancements.

An example is the planned North-South Expressway from Woodlands to the city, an $8 billion project. And only recently, the Marina Coastal Expressway was completed at a cost of $4.3 billion.

There are, of course, economic benefits to be gained from having a good road infrastructure, which has also made driving in Singapore generally pleasant, even pleasurable, compared with the experience in many cities.

But therein lies the paradox - a good road network encourages more car ownership and usage. If the roads are so good, it would be tough to get people to drive less often, let alone give it up altogether.

Several MPs have urged fiscal prudence in the recent Budget debates. More challenging times are ahead and it will be wiser to spend limited funds on more existential concerns, such as achieving water self-sufficiency sooner and securing our energy supply.

There should be a freeze on all road works, except for essential maintenance and repair, and roads for new residential and industrial areas.

If we continue expanding our roads, the car-lite initiative risks being undermined. Going road-lite supports going car-lite.

Tan Chak Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Stop expanding road network to discourage driving'. Print Edition | Subscribe