“About 8.9 million journeys are made everyday, and that figure is expected to shoot up by 60 per cent to about 14.3 million” (A Question Of Supply And Demand, Mr. Loh Chee Kong).
I read with interest the report, “A Question Of Supply And Demand” (June 26, 2010) by Mr. Loh Chee Kong, on the interview with Transport Minister Raymond Lim. Transportation is an important issue for all Singaporeans; with a huge vehicle traffic, increasing modernisation and industrialisation as well as inherent geographical constraints, Singapore has one of the most congested roads around the world. Despite a plethora of measures rolled out by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA), little has been accomplished significantly. The troubling rush-hour traffic and continual congestion prove that more work has to be done in terms of evaluating existing measures and developing more effective action plans.
For instance, if the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) – instituted in 1990 – was introduced to regulate and control car ownership and population on the roads, then does it mean that the programme has failed? Already there has been existing criticisms that the COE bids favour the high-income households, whilst lower-income families in need of vehicles are forced to pay the high COE prices. Quoting the laws of supply and demand is irrelevant because the results have not been exactly favourable; furthermore, increasing vehicle speeds might not be a good gauge for the extent of congestion on our roads.
Moving on, how effective has the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) been? The fact that other countries and cities are selectively adopting similar measures is besides the point; what is more important is whether the local ERP has been realistically effectual. The Transport Minister approves of such a congestion management measure; yet the same jams and heavy traffic are evidenced every single day on expressways. Motorists are simply frustrated by the daily routine of slow-moving traffic, and annoyed by the fact that our roads are overly-susceptible to standstills whenever accidents occur. After years of paying toll charges at gantries after gantries, Singaporeans have a right to know if their payments have genuinely improved road and driving conditions.
Minister’s Lim decision to commute on public transport at peak hours would give him an excellent picture of the degree of inconvenience and human traffic from station to station, bus stop to bus stop. Right now, the approach should not solely focus on encouraging Singaporeans to step out of their cars – especially since many have explained that such a call is a tad hypocritical if politicians themselves opt for their vehicles – but by making our public transport more effective, efficient, and obviously: more comfortable.
The time is now: it is imperative for the MOT and LTA to rethink and re-evaluate the aforementioned policies and initiatives. We simply cannot afford to allow the situation to spiral out of control.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.