Removing free parking won't create fairness

Mr Francis Cheng argues that taking away free parking at HDB carparks on Sundays and public holidays can drive down car usage here and would be a fairer method of spreading the costs of running a carpark (Time to reconsider free parking at HDB carparks; July 29).

These can be countered on two points.

First, a weekend parking charge, being distributed over the timeframe of how long a car is used for, is simply too well spread out to be of any real impact on a car owner's finances, especially if he is "well-to-do".

Second, a blanket parking charge would arguably hit economically vulnerable drivers the hardest.

This would undermine the very concept of fairness that Mr Cheng seeks to protect.

Car ownership rates cannot be curtailed significantly overnight.

Bringing them down requires a sustained effort on multiple fronts over a period of time.

There is a need for a mindset shift in our community, so we see cars not as an indicator of success or economic status.

This has to be coupled with the continued provision of effective, prompt and reasonably priced public transportation as an alternative.

These measures by themselves will not suffice either.

The issue is complex and requires tackling from multiple angles.

Luke Ong Xing Kai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline 'Removing free parking won't create fairness'. Print Edition | Subscribe