Monday, October 22, 2007

No use owning a car in Singapore

I really want to laugh at what our Transport minister said about the effectiveness of ERP.

I quote a section from the ST:
Dr Fatimah Lateef, MP for Marine Parade GRC, had asked the Minister if the ERP scheme has met the objectives that it was meant to achieve and if it has improved the traffic flow on expressways especially during peak hours.

In his reply, Mr Lim said since its implementation in 1998, ERP has been effective in maintaining average travel speeds on priced roads within the optimal speed range through regular reviews and rate adjustments. For example, average speeds on the expressways have remained at above 45km/h during peak hours.

"The use of ERP to manage traffic has made it possible for more Singaporeans to own cars than we otherwise could, and our vehicle population has grown from 680,000 in 1997 to 800,000 in 2006," he added.

"It has also allowed the Government to rely more on car usage charges and less on car ownership taxes to manage traffic demand, and as a result, vehicle ownership taxes have been reduced. "

2 problems with this quote.

First problem: The question was on improving the traffic flow in expressways during peak hours. Do you know that a racer bike can travel at 50km/hr? You're saying that traveling at 45km/hr is considered as improving the traffic flow?? I've been driving for quite a few years on and off and I remembered that last time, the traffic jam was never as bad as now. ERP has an effect when the COE was at around $30,000. Now?? Why don't our minister try traveling at our expressways during 6-7pm and see if the traffic flow is smooth? Remember... CTE. I recall someone said 35km/hr? I think I can achieve that speed on my bicycle.

Second problem: Allowing more Singaporeans to own cars. This really reminds me of a scene in Bruce Almighty where he granted the wishes of all the townsmen to strike "Toto". In the end, everyone got $1 (some small amount). This is exactly the same problem. First of all, what's the use of a car? It's for a person to travel from point A to point B in the least possible time. I can safely say that if I take the MRT to work, or back home at the peak timing, I'm faster than most of the cars. Just imagine you spend $40,000 to $50,000 on a car (cheapest one), which travels slower than a racer bike and the MRT. And he still thinks its an achievement?? Well... maybe the last paragraph of my quote is the actual achievement he is indicating.

All in all, I think the transport system in Singapore is screwed up, starting from the COE. You want to restrict cars on the road, then do it properly, not half-heartedly. Singapore is small... COE is meant to keep the population of the cars small enough so that the speed of travel is acceptable. Traveling at 45km/hr is not acceptable. It's slower than a bicycle for goodness sake. I would say 60km/hr as an acceptable average speed. That was the speed I remembered long ago when I was driving an old 1.3litre car.

The minister also forgot to mention that what other problems cheap cars has caused. Anyone notice the number of accidents in Singapore? Anyone notice the dangerous driving you see everyday on the roads? When cars are cheap, people don't care. You get parents giving a car to a 21yr old kid as a birthday present. I don't mind if its responsible driving (I've seen some), but sad to say that most of the examples I've seen is not the case. Look at the profile of the drivers getting into accidents and you'll also know what I mean.

Sometimes, I really do wonder why I bother to read the newspapers... As a matter of fact, I skipped this article. Someone else mentioned it. Oh well...

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