Raise taxes on properties near MRT stations

SMRT is right - its antiquated signalling system needs to be replaced and thoroughly tested (Peak-hour testing revealed new issues; July 10).

However, in the long run, capital expenditure on maintenance, repair and replacement of parts will increase as well. This is why fares go up.

But increasing fares will mean people would be more unwilling to give up their cars. It is also a heavier financial burden on the elderly and the poor.

Our current spending and subsidy patterns are not sustainable in the long term for either operating or capital budgets.

More innovative methods are needed that would generate substantial income without hurting the pockets of commuters.

The Government could consider raising the property tax on properties near bus interchanges and MRT/LRT stations.

Commercial and residential properties that are near public transportation are more valuable and attractive than others without good access to such amenities.

Value-capture mechanisms can range from property taxes to parking levies. These can go towards paying for upgrading and building new MRT stations and bus interchanges as well as other public transport projects.

It is fair for properties and malls near public transportation to pay higher property tax, rather than to keep increasing fares. It would also reflect the higher value accessibility to public transport commands, compared to non-accessibility.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'Raise taxes on properties near MRT stations'. Print Edition | Subscribe