Today, 12% of Singapore’s total land area is taken up by roads. In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network. We will continue to invest heavily to improve our public transport system. Over the past six years, we have expanded our rail network significantly, growing the rail network length by 30% and adding a total of 41 new stations. Through the $1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme and Bus Contracting Model, we have added new routes and injected greater capacity into the bus network while raising service levels. We will continue to invest $20 billion in new rail infrastructure, $4 billion to renew, upgrade and expand rail operating assets, and another $4 billion in bus contracting subsidies over the next five years to improve the public transport experience.
In view of Singapore’s land constraints and our commitment to continually improve our public transport system, we have lowered the vehicle growth rate from the current 0.25% per annum to 0% with effect from February 2018 for COE Categories A, B and D. The existing vehicle growth rate of 0.25% per annum for Category C will remain unchanged until 1Q2021, to provide businesses more time to improve the efficiency of their logistics operations and reduce the number of commercial vehicles they require.
The adjustments to the vehicle growth rate are not expected to significantly affect the supply of COEs, as the COE quota is determined largely by the number of vehicle deregistrations. We will review the vehicle growth rate again in 2020.
Given the land constraint in Singapore, there is insufficient space to accommodate a high level of car ownership. In fact, the land area currently taken up by the road network is already about 12%, comparable to that used for housing (14%).
As public transport is the most efficient way to move large numbers of people in a densely-populated urban environment, the cornerstone of our land transport policy remains the development of a quality and reliable public transport system. We have been making continuous improvements to our public transport system so that more people will consider it a choice mode and not that of last resort. This is the more sustainable option in the long-run given our limited land space.
Singapore is a small city state with limited land resources. If you look at other cities without such a mechanism to control their vehicle population, you would find that a rocketing car population is a common phenomenon. In Delhi, for example, some 500 vehicles are added to the streets every day. In Beijing, the vehicle population doubled to the current 4.8 million in just 5 years. As a result, the Beijing government introduced a vehicle quota system on 1 Jan 2011 to control the vehicle population growth.
Singapore stands out among major cities and fast growing economies in having a relatively modest growth in our car population. This has contributed greatly to keeping our roads relatively smooth flowing. It is a huge competitive advantage that we need to maintain.
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