Do more to encourage private property owners to give up cars

I agree that the public transport system must be up to scratch so that we can move away from a personal automobile culture ("Creating a more people-friendly city"; May 11).

Last year, 24.8 per cent of Singapore residents used the MRT and public buses to travel to work, 16.5 per cent used only public buses, and 12 per cent used only the MRT. Those who used only cars made up 21.9 per cent.

Five years ago, 17.6 per cent used the MRT and public buses, 19.3 per cent buses only, and 11.5 per cent the MRT only. Those who used cars were at 24.8 per cent.

We see only a small shift from car to rail and bus, despite much effort to improve rail and bus reliability as well as to increase the number of buses and rail stations, and the frequency of services during peak hours.

Looking closer at those who take only cars to work, it is not surprising to notice that an extremely high percentage of workers who live in private condominiums and landed property drive cars to work - 44.7 per cent and 52.5 per cent respectively. For those who live in HDB flats and take only the car to work, the figure ranges from 2.3 per cent for one- and two-room flats, to 25.4 per cent for five-room and executive flats.

Given the very high car ownership rates of 78.5 per cent for those who live in condominiums, and 87.2 per cent for those in landed property, compared with only 33.5 per cent in HDB flats, a more targeted approach is needed to make these workers switch to taking rail or bus, or a combination of both, to work.

Besides imposing or raising parking charges and limiting the number of carparks at the workplace, more shuttle bus services serving private residential estates could be made available to ferry residents to MRT stations.

This way, transportation to work by only the car should drop, provided the public transport system is up to scratch.

Gan Kok Tiong