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Tweak urban planning to ease traffic congestion

Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang's suggestion to replace the certificate of entitlement (COE) scheme with a new one by using the latest technologies is thought-provoking (Time to trade in COE scheme for a newer model?; Nov 5).

Our problem is traffic congestion during the peak hours of going to and from work - not just on roads but also in the public transport system. The COE or any transport policy alone cannot solve the problem.

We need to tackle the big-picture issue - our urban planning, which is based on the model of one Central Business District (CBD).

The CBD has been expanding fast in the last few decades via land reclamation. Thousands of new offices are built yearly. If we do not tweak our urban planning, the problem will only get worse. The Government should stop building new offices in the current CBD and focus on setting up offices in new areas.

The plan to transform Jurong Lake District into a second CBD by 2040, which would create more than 100,000 jobs and 20,000 homes there, is a great step.

We can also consider upgrading the Northern Gateway in Woodlands into a third CBD, perhaps by integrating it with Yishun township.

To make the new CBDs attractive, equip them with the latest first-class infrastructure and facilities. Public housing policies should also favour buyers who work in or near the new CBDs.

With land being cheaper on the outskirts, the building of new CBDs will dampen rent increases in the current CBD, and enhance our global competitiveness.

If we do not change our pattern of traffic now, it will be harder to do so in the future.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 12, 2017, with the headline 'Tweak urban planning to ease traffic congestion'. Print Edition | Subscribe