The Singapore Perspective

Fewer parking spaces, higher parking fees the way to go

Experts agree that parking policy is one area Singapore has not addressed in its car-lite strategy.

This should change soon. In Parliament last week, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said there would be less space in future for parking, which would become more expensive.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong also said public parking charges in Singapore were lower than in other cities worldwide, and might have to be raised.

This is the first time that two ministries have made overtures to raise parking charges and lower parking provisions to curb car use.

Some cities are already doing what both ministers have highlighted. In Hong Kong, for instance, the government controls the car population by limiting parking space.

"There, cars are cheaper but you have nowhere to park them," said transport expert Henri Blas from global engineering group Aecom.

Parking policy expert Paul Barter from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said the Singapore Government should abolish minimum parking provisions for developers.

At the moment, developers have to adhere to parking provision standards for their buildings which stipulate the minimum amount of parking spaces they have to build according to their floor area.

Private residential developments, for example, have to have a minimum of one car parking space per residential unit.

These parking minimums ensure a steady supply of parking and keep parking prices relatively low. 

"That might sound nice but it goes against all our other policies, doesn't it?" said Dr Barter.

"This policy actually encourages car ownership and driving."

He pointed out that cities such as London and Berlin have abolished minimum parking standards.

"Developers in those cities still build enough parking at locations that need it. But where non-car options are excellent, they sometimes build little or no parking."

Doing this would in turn free up space, which could be put to more lucrative or equitable uses like shops or office developments.

Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Fewer parking spaces, higher parking fees the way to go'. Print Edition | Subscribe