Time to reconsider free parking at HDB carparks

Is free parking at HDB carparks on weekends and public holidays, which was introduced to encourage family get-togethers, still useful?

Most of the carparks are used by shoppers and diners rather than family visitors.

If people know they can park for free, they would rather drive, and that defeats the purpose of encouraging a car-lite nation.

The free parking perk is probably one reason why few people have been persuaded to use public transport.

HDB multi-storey carparks and electronic parking system gantries are not cheap to build.

Even with increased parking charges, carparks may still face deficits due to increasing development and operational costs.

There is no reason why the Government should subsidise motorists at the expense of those who take public transport.

Free parking is not really free. The costs of building the carparks as well as cleaning, lighting, repair and maintenance are passed on to season parking pass holders.

Free parking represents a subsidy for visitors that is paid disproportionately by those holding season parking passes, and a subsidy for the well-to-do who can afford a car that is paid by the residents via service and conservancy charges, regardless of whether they own a car, because the cost of carpark maintenance is a shared communal cost.

Managing parking spaces for vehicles is important, but it could be contributing to car congestion.

In the future, when autonomous cars become widespread, demand for parking spaces, and most likely, car usage, will rise.

Indeed, parking is a service which we use, and it is only fair that we pay for that service.

Without free parking, it will encourage more people to car pool, share cars or use public transport.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Time to reconsider free parking at HDB carparks'. Print Edition | Subscribe