Annex 6 International Case Studies

Singapore

Overview

Singapore is an island city-state with a small land area of only 625km2 and a population of about three million, but it is very progressive in its comprehensive range of policies to restrain private cars and improve public transport. In the 1960s, central areas of Singapore suffered serious traffic congestion due to the rapid growth in car use, a poorly developed road network, and inadequate public transport. In the early 1970s, the adverse impacts of worsening congestion were recognized and since then Singapore has implemented a variety of regulatory and pricing schemes to restrain car ownership and use. Implementation has been facilitated by the technical creativity of the measures and public acceptance of the need for them. The well-known Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) is just one of many restraint schemes. The measures can be categorized into three groups: (i) measures to restrain car ownership; (ii) measures to restrain car use; and (iii) measures to improve traffic flow.

1970s - Lessons learned on parking restraints

Singapore introduced measures to limit parking capacity as a car restraint strategy, which also had the effect of improving traffic flow. It was hoped that limits on parking and high fees would deter vehicles from entering the CBD. However, contrary to expectations, vehicle flows to the area did not abate and many vehicles queued for the available parking spaces, blocking roads and reducing road capacity. This was because there was little restraint on car ownership. Those who could afford a car could afford to park.

(The city of Osaka in Japan adopted a similar policy in the mid 1970s, also with the objective of reducing the number of vehicles entering the CBD. It is claimed that, due to this policy, parking remains under supplied in central Osaka with the result that the frequency of illegal parking is three times as high as central Tokyo.)

The lesson was learned that isolated measures to limit road or parking capacity to induce a shift to public transport or to restrain vehicle use tend to cause serious problems, while not achieving their objectives. Parking controls and vehicle restraint measures needed to be implemented as part of an integrated package of measures with the simultaneous or advance development of public transport.

1980s - Public transport developed

Of the measures to restrain car use, the Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) had a very positive effect, but this was confined to the central area. Measures, which raised the cost of using cars, had a slight restraining effect, while raising parking fees was found to be ineffective. It is not clear from the analysis whether modal choice was inelastic with respect to parking fees because the changes in parking fees were relatively small, or because users are truly inelastic. However, it can at least be shown that small changes in parking fees in Singapore had a minimal restraining effect.

Soon after the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) opened, car restraint measures were strengthened except for the obligation to install parking accommodation in buildings, which was reduced due to excessive capacity.

1990s - Parking controls are a key element of transport policy

Control of parking has been an important element of Singapore’s transportation policy. Very high standards of provision of parking accommodation are imposed on developers and building owners. The public sector is also active in the provision and operation of parking lots through the process of urban redevelopment. As a result, Singapore has ample parking capacity, and central areas have excess capacity. The low incidence of illegal parking contributes to efficient traffic flow, despite some obstruction by loading activity in areas of wholesale shops.

The policy of providing ample off-street parking capacity also contributed to the improved flow of traffic in the central area.

Standards for the provision of parking accommodation in Singapore are based on the following principles: (i) the required level of provision is very high; (ii) all buildings, including residential buildings, are required to have sufficient car parks to accommodate all residents’ and visitors’ cars, regardless of the size of the building; (iii) the level of parking provision is subject to periodic review and amendment as is the supply and demand for parking changes; and (iv) the parking standards do not apply uniformly to the entire urban area and since 1990 different levels have applied to different zones depending on district land use and traffic conditions.

As for public car parks, the share of public sector operators (total capacity in 1991 of 335,000 passenger cars) exceeds that of private operators (1991 capacity 73,000). From 1971 to 1985, an upper limit of parking fees was imposed on privately operated public car parks to restrict excessive profits, and a lower limit was set to maintain a restraining effect on car use. During the same period, a government surcharge was added to parking fees in the CBD to restrain the number of vehicles entering the CBD.

Controls on central area parking by a surcharge on parking fees or setting a minimum level of charge, also acted as restraints on car use

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