Singapore is making the journey to a transport system which is car-lite, accessible, inclusive and sustainable: This is necessary given our island’s small land area, ongoing climate change and dense urban population.
“Mass public transport is the core of our transport strategy,” reiterated Minister for Transport S Iswaran to Parliament this Monday (May 8), as he addressed parliamentary questions from PAP MPs such as Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang SMC), Melvin Yong (Radin Mas SMC), Dr Lim Wee Kiak and Mariam Jaafar (Sembawang GRC) relating to the ongoing concerns around the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system.
He also mentioned one key adjustment to help make sure private car owners remain part of this journey: redistributing the supply of soon-expiring 5-year COEs over several quarters.
“Even as we make this move, I would like to emphasise two points,” noted Minister Iswaran about the supply redistribution.
“First, this will help to lessen, but it will not eliminate, volatility in supply. There will still be a degree of supply fluctuation due to historical factors and broader market conditions.”
“Secondly, the long-term upward trend of COE prices due to rising incomes and zero vehicle population growth will not abate.”
Rather, what is key is this fact: The Government is committed to developing the necessary policies and infrastructure to build a transport system which meets the diverse needs of all Singaporeans.
The COE, in other words, is just one of the ways for creating this ideal public transport network.
Redistributing the upcoming COE supply
There are only a limited number of COEs to go around because of Singapore’s zero-growth policy, where the quantity of private vehicles on Singapore’s roads is kept at a near-fixed level even while the public transport system expands. It is the principal tool to manage ownership for a small country like Singapore.
So what is with the rising COE prices? Fundamentally, the COE prices reflect demand for a limited and falling supply of COEs. But the Government is taking steps to stabilise this cost to Singapore’s drivers.
“As a one-off exercise, LTA will bring forward and redistribute the supply from five-year COEs which are due to expire in the next projected supply peak,” assured Minister Iswaran,
He noted that this supply redistribution (over several quarters) will increase quota supply in the next bidding exercise by about 24 per cent in Cat A and 15 per cent in Cat B, reducing volatility.
It also complements how the Government now calculates each quarter’s COE quota with the moving average of vehicle de-registrations from the four quarters previous — this ensures commuters have a smooth supply of COEs each time bids open.
A transport system for the present and the future
“As Singapore develops and grows, Singaporeans’ transport needs will continue to evolve, and our transport policies must move in tandem while paying heed to our key constraints,” said Minister Iswaran.
This is regardless whether a commuter drives his or her private car or motorcycle, rides a bus or train in our world-class transport system or simply walks to a nearby place.
And in fact, while the Government is committed to this ‘car-lite’, accessible, inclusive and sustainable transport system for Singaporeans, it is what Singaporeans do that will make the difference overall.
“It is part of our social compact, reflecting the values we hold as a society,” said Minister Iswaran of the Government’s public transport development efforts.
“Ultimately, our success in realising that vision rests in the commuting choices that every Singaporean makes every day.”