Fulfilling car aspirations, curbing congestion

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew is correct to say that owning a car is still the aspiration of many Singaporeans ("Downtown Line Stage 2 back on track for Dec start"; Monday).

He also said that higher car ownership would lead to the need to increase the road network to avoid congestion, depriving our beautiful city of space for other purposes, such as more green space.

This need not be so if the taxation structure is altered to charge for vehicle use, rather than ownership.

And usage may be tempered through mechanisms such as a more extensive MRT network (all households to have an MRT station within 10 minutes of walking from their homes), a more extensive car pooling system, and accepting taxi services as essential public transport and liberalising services such as Uber.

These measures, combined with an enhanced bus transport system already in the making, would go a long way to persuade people to use their private cars sparingly.

Private cars are likely to be the preferred mode of transport on occasions like family outings, heavy grocery shopping, multi-destination trips and emergencies.

Hence, the aspiration to have a car for ready use when really necessary can still be fulfilled.

The Government should, thus, consider allowing all who wish to own a car to secure one at a reasonable price.

Taxing usage (developing a formula based on distance travelled and day/time of use), combined with the charges imposed in the existing Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and parking systems, would deter frequent use of private vehicles, provided alternative means of transport are well placed.

We will, thus, be able to own a car, but use public transport most of the time.

I am sure that our transport experts will be able to creatively develop this more equitable system to fulfil the aspirations of many.

Amarjit Wasan