Why It Matters

Timely to review Park & Ride

Introduced 26 years ago, the Park & Ride scheme was designed to reduce traffic congestion in the Central Business District (CBD). But its relevance has been called into question.

The scheme incentivises motorists to park their cars outside the city centre - near to either an MRT station or bus interchange - and to complete their journey by public transport. While motorists lose the door-to-door convenience of driving their cars from home to the office, they enjoy lower parking rates compared with those in the CBD, and avoid paying the area's Electronic Road Pricing fees.

Even so, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) revealed last week that the scheme is being reviewed. This, it said, is because of the "consistently low" take-up rate over the past few years. Out of the around 4,700 parking spaces available islandwide, only about 40 per cent are taken up each month. The LTA also highlighted misuse, as only about half of the scheme's users take public transport immediately after parking their cars. Park & Ride costs $70 every month, comprising $30 for a season parking ticket and $40 for a travel card for use on the MRT and buses. The $30 parking component is lower than normal season parking rates. And as several Park & Ride carparks are near commercial hubs, motorists working nearby would use the scheme to enjoy cheap parking. They would apparently give the travel cards to family or friends.

Park & Ride's relevance must also be evaluated against the public transport landscape. In 1990, there were only two MRT lines - the North-South and East-West lines. But the network has since expanded, with the addition of the North-East, Circle and Downtown MRT lines, as well as the LRT systems, bringing total rail length to around 200km.

The LTA has also, since 2013, introduced City Direct bus services, which take commuters from the heartland to the city and back during peak hours.

Scrapping Park & Ride could mean bringing inconvenience to the close to 1,000 genuine users. But with the increase in connectivity, this could be an opportune time to wean some motorists off their cars and go car-lite.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Timely to review Park & Ride'. Print Edition | Subscribe