Car sharing moderates driving, complements public transport

CAR sharing has been available in Singapore for many years, albeit in a modest and small way.

It cannot be the panacea for all our transport challenges or to create a car-lite Singapore. But it is a more sustainable and holistic approach to the challenges.

Each shared car in Singapore serves up to 37 users, who are regular public transport users too.

Surveys have shown that around 14 of the 37 car-sharing users would have bought a private car if car sharing were not available in their neighbourhood.

A typical car-sharing user drives a car once weekly or fortnightly for less than five hours each time.

The yearly distance driven by a user is less than 5 per cent of an average private car owner.

This is due to the absence of a sunk-cost mentality, so alternative and cheaper transport is usually preferred, except for the occasional journey to places not well served by public transport, or even taxis.

Taken together, a shared car occupies much less road time and space compared with 14 private cars it replaces.

The Car-Sharing Association's member-operators have noted sharp increases in former and current car owners joining car sharing.

This augurs well for the country, as marginal car drivers can turn to car sharing to complement their public transport commutes, and they do not compete for certificate of entitlement (COE) and road infrastructure with people who are more in need of a car.

The association welcomes the support by the Government to grow the car-sharing service.

The wider availability and accessibility to shared cars will improve the service and appeal substantially.

This approach also offers public transport users a wider spectrum of transport choices to better meet their mobility needs.

The electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing programme can offer Singapore residents an opportunity to enjoy an integrated and smart mobility landscape that is sustainable, customised for the local market and better for our urban environment.

The cost to implement EV car sharing is shared with successful operators and there are significant economic spin-offs for Singapore.

We cannot afford to add more land for roads and cars, but driving in Singapore need not be the privilege of a minority group.

With car sharing, everyone can drive when the need arises and still reside in a liveable city.

Lai Meng
Car-Sharing Association (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2015, with the headline 'Car sharing moderates driving, complements public transport'. Subscribe