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Ditch cars?Plug gaps in public transport first

It seems like a good idea to give up owning cars as certificate of entitlement prices, fuel costs and the cost of other expenses go through the roof.

So why are we not surrendering our car keys?

We need to consider if there are viable alternatives to cars.

While we have a First World road system, our trains and taxis are far from First World in quality. The availability of taxis is unpredictable, and the fare system is difficult to understand. Our train system is about 30 years old, and has been run as an enterprise which tries to eke out the most profit possible, with maintenance as an afterthought.

We also must not think of the train station or bus stop as the final destination. People want to go to their homes, offices, malls, schools and polyclinics. But the links between these places and stations or bus stops are not well developed.

Planners must think about the elderly and families. An elderly person cannot walk effortlessly for 15 minutes. We cannot take our children to the park, carry a cartful of groceries, or take an elderly parent to the doctor in an overcrowded train or bus.

Public transport works well for the commute to work, but squeezing the family into a packed train is a turn-off. We may end up leaving our parents or children at home. Owning a car, however, allows us to go to places and take the elderly and children along in comfort.

A public transport system that is well received needs to cater to all ages, to the healthy and the infirm, and be reliable, affordable and comfortable. Only then will we gladly give up our car keys.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'Ditch cars?Plug gaps in public transport first'. Print Edition | Subscribe