Think holistically to resolve transport woes

I agree with the editorial ("Sustainable usage of road space"; Feb 1) that, as a nation, we need to reduce our "psychological dependence on cars", and move towards a transportation model that is premised on a strong and reliable public transport network.

However, this mitigates issues only on the demand side, and even with this approach, there are two inherent problems.

First, building a strong and reliable public transport network takes time. We are taking small steps, with the building of new MRT lines and reinforcing bus networks, but realising the vision of having a public transport node within walking distance of every flat in the country will likely take decades.

Second, there is a multitude of reasons why people own cars.

Although we can definitely reduce the demand arising from the "status" tagged to owning a car, there are also pragmatic reasons - from family reasons, such as helping with the mobility of the elderly, to a need to reduce travelling time because of the long distance between one's home and workplace.  

Beyond looking at demand, the Land Transport Authority and Ministry of National Development would also need to look into the supply side, namely, the road networks in Singapore.

The editorial said that roads accounted for 12 per cent of our land area, and that the road network could not keep expanding.

But roads can expand without expanding the area of land used.

We can either build up or build down. By building up, we can overlay road networks above current roads, such as having elevated expressways; by building down, we can increase our network of underground roads.

We will need to take a holistic view when it comes to our country's transport issues.

At this stage, we should not preclude any possibility in resolving a key infrastructural and social issue.

Blaming transportation issues merely on private car ownership is too myopic a view.

Benjamin Lim Tiong Beng