Parking policy 'can be tool to spur public transport use'

Commuters during the peak hour period in the train along North-South Line on Oct 7 2013. One way to encourage people to take buses and trains instead of cars into the city is to make parking spaces there even scarcer. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM&nbsp
Commuters during the peak hour period in the train along North-South Line on Oct 7 2013. One way to encourage people to take buses and trains instead of cars into the city is to make parking spaces there even scarcer. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM 

One way to encourage people to take buses and trains instead of cars into the city is to make parking spaces there even scarcer.

That will push parking charges up and force people to think twice about driving, said Assistant Professor Paul Barter from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy yesterday, pointing out that this was how other major cities around the world managed traffic.

The average monthly season parking fee in Tokyo and Hong Kong is around $920. For London, it is nearly $1,340. But in Singapore, the price of parking in the Central Business District (CBD) was $278.20 every month in 2011.

"In a city like Singapore where we are not trying to encourage car use, the parking policy seems to be inconsistent with the rest of the transport policy, in that we're trying to make sure there's enough parking," said the parking policy expert.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a panel discussion yesterday - the second day of the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition at Suntec City.

In its Land Transport Masterplan 2013 launched on Monday, the Government acknowledged that motorists often decide if they should drive or use public transport based on the availability of parking.

In 2005, rules were tightened so that developers could provide up to 20 per cent fewer parking spaces than before in the CBD. And while parking charges here are low relative to other major cities, supply will decrease over time as older buildings, which do not come under the updated rules, make way for newer ones.

Dr Barter believes concerns about insufficient parking spaces leading to parking chaos on surrounding streets can be addressed. This applies not just in the CBD, but islandwide. He said the conventional thinking that buildings should have a minimum number of parking spaces so that cars do not park illegally or queue for parking in surrounding roads should be set aside.

Instead, the spillover onto the streets can be managed in other ways, such as the sharing of parking spaces, or by making private lots open to the public. Increasing parking charges when demand is high is also a way to eliminate parking queues, he added.

roysim@sph.com.sg