car free sunday SIngapore
Singapore says no more cars

With roads already taking up 12 per cent of its land area, Singapore will cap the total number of cars in the city state from February 2018.

“In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network,” the Land Transport Authority (LTA) explains.

The island government requires drivers to buy a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) to operate a car and for the first time it will not increase the quota this year.

Deregistered vehicles will provide the only opportunity for new COEs to be purchased.

These permits are auctioned monthly by the government. At the most recent offering, the permit cost S$41,617 for the smallest vehicles, which is just under $40K in Australian money.

This contributes to Singapore being one of the most expensive places in the world to operate a car.

Already the complaints are coming, with the MRT rail system labelled too unreliable and inadequate to allow the government's car-lite agenda. 

However, the public transport system is one of the most efficient in the world, and the government is investing S$28 billion (AUD$27 billion) more on rail and bus transportation over the next five years, the LTA said.

In the recent Sustainable Cities Mobility Index Singapore ranked strongly at 8th in the world.

The Singapore government is also on the front foot with a behaviour change program to bring in its car-lite policy, pledging to continue the car-free Sundays it has staged intermittently since February 2016.

As these car-lite policies begin to bite, how many Singaporeans will turn to bikes?

Public bike systems for instance, such as Obike that began in Singapore, provide ideal transport for a high-density urban population. 

After early vandalism problems, bike-share bikes will now be geo-fenced to specified parking areas in Singapore

The LTA said the zero-growth target of COEs will affect vehicles in Categories A, B and D under its permit system – these include cars and motorcycles.

The existing vehicle growth rate of goods vehicles and buses will remain at 0.25 per cent per annum until March 2021 to give businesses time to improve the efficiency of their operations and reduce the number of commercial vehicles they require, LTA said.

The limit on vehicle growth rate will be reviewed again in 2020.