Car still preferred choice, new study finds

Traffic along Clementi Road outside SIM University on Sept 19 2012. Despite the Government's push to get more motorists to switch to public transport, the car is still their preferred choice, a new study has found. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA &nb
Traffic along Clementi Road outside SIM University on Sept 19 2012. Despite the Government's push to get more motorists to switch to public transport, the car is still their preferred choice, a new study has found. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA  

Despite the Government's push to get more motorists to switch to public transport, the car is still their preferred choice, a new study has found.

Even if a commuter lives within a 10-minute walk of a train station, his average train usage drops by 15 per cent when he has access to a car, researchers found.

Younger respondents also said they preferred driving, even during peak hours.

Some 37 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds indicated they prefer cars, compared to 26 per cent of commuters aged 35 to 54 and 18 per cent of those aged 55 and above.

During off-peak travel, the figures were higher - to 43 per cent, 32 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.

Even though most respondents recognised that cars are the main culprits of congestion, they would not be willing to ditch their vehicles.

These were among key findings of a study of 1,500 people carried out between July 2012 and last month by Dr Pallab Saha of the National University of Singapore in collaboration with the Land Transport Authority.

The findings were shared with delegates at the inaugural Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition yesterday.

Dr Saha said people here are still too reliant on cars, despite the Government's efforts to beef up the public transport network and tighten vehicle ownership. Almost one in two Singapore households owns a car.

"The car becomes aspirational because you've to pay (in excess of) tens of thousands of dollars for a car and the COE," said Dr Saha. "It is something that one can use to project social success."

However the study also found that nearly two-thirds of motorists would take public transport if it becomes more costly to buy and use a car, and if there are fewer parking spaces.

Eight in 10 said they are likely to make the switch if they are given accurate information of arrival and departure times at bus stops, more areas are accessible by bus and train routes, and public transport capacity is increased.

Dr Saha said there is a need to change motorists' mindsets to wean them off their vehicles - like creating awareness of projects such as car-sharing schemes.

He said these are "more about getting access to a car, not so much owning one".

jermync@sph.com.sg