S’pore to freeze car numbers 

Singapore, one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a car, has announced it will enforce a growth cap on the number of private vehicles on its roads from 2018 while promising to enhance public transport.

The freeze for all cars and motorcycles would be cut from 0.25 per cent a year, which was introduced in 2015, to zero from February, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The halt on car numbers would be reviewed in 2020, the government said.

The island republic’s car ownership rates are far lower than in other wealthy countries.

Singapore’s 5.6 million residents already face a quota on vehicles sold and allowed to use its roads, and avoids the congestion that clogs Asean’s other large cities.

Singaporean car ownership is roughly 11 per cent while in the US it is nearly 80 per cent and it is just under 50 per cent in Europe.

New Singaporean drivers must first get a “certificate of entitlement”, valid for 10 years, at an average cost of around S$50,000 (US$37,00).

The authorities hold monthly auctions for the certificates.

The LTA said the new cap would not significantly affect the number of available certificates, because most of them are not newly created, and instead come from deregistered cars.

A five-door Toyota Corolla Altis can cost up to around S$111,000, including the certificate: about four times its US price tag.

A recent Deutsche Bank report said a new family car costs around US$90,000 in Singapore, compared with about US$24,000 in Britain and the US.

There were more than 600,000 privately owned cars in the Lion City at the end of 2016.

Buses and trucks will be unaffected by the changes.

The densely populated territory has a land area less than half the size of the city of Houston but more than twice the population.

Singapore ranked 55th on a global congestion index by GPS manufacturer TomTom. Jakarta came second and Bangkok third in the study.

But the LTA said 12 per cent of Singapore was covered by roads, a far higher percentage than in many larger countries.

It added that S$28bn would be spent over the next five years on public transport while Singapore’s metro network has recently faced criticism for a series of breakdowns.

Singapore has added 41 new train stations over the past six years, expanding the network by 30 per cent.

Singapore does not want to see more congestion. Picture credit: Wikimedia