Friday, October 28, 2011
Traffic Congestion, Road Usage & Car Ownership
Cars ownership is both, a necessity and a status symbol.
Despite its expensiveness, many people aspire to own one if the wallet permits. With an increasing car population, roads and car parks need to be expanded to ensure a freer flow of traffic.
Apart from import duties and road taxes, new measures, like Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and Certificate of Entitlement (COE), were introduced to supplement existing 'deterrences'. Such measures have only added to Government coffers with minimum to nil effects on traffic management and growth in car population.
While car ownership is not discouraged, their usage is. This is because usage contributes to pollution, congestion and economic costs due to lost hours in traffic jams and demands for parking spaces.
There is, however, no 'one glove fits all' solutions in traffic management.
Nonetheless, there are some socially acceptable solutions;
1. Ideally, the public transportation system should be as seamless and as reliable and punctual as possible. If its convenient and reasonably priced, most will switch to public transport.
2. Look around you when you are caught in a congestion the next time. Do you notice that most of, if not all, the cars have only one person, that is, the driver. Give incentives, like discount to ERP, for carpooling; this not only save economic resources but also allow co-mingling and a chance to know others. Who knows this may also improve the number of marriages, enhance social interaction and built cohesion among the people.
3. Allow co-ownership of cars - two or more families should be allowed to co-own a car without the constraints of co-operative rules and sub-leasing regulations.
4. Provide full-day parking at lower costs at strategic locations like MRT stations and bus terminals.
5. Incidentally, the buildings in our shopping belt (Orchard Road) and business district (Shenton Way) are not link nor are there sheltered walkways to allow and encourage walking. It is not uncommon to drive to the next building a few streets down the road instead of walk in our weather.
Of course, the above suggestions are non exhaustive.
It is noticeable that our traffic management has been based on disincentives and are punitive in nature. Why not take, or try, a softer approach by encouraging and incentivising instead?
An all inclusive society peppered with care and share through softer approaches instead of using the 'big stick' will not only lower the cost of living but it will also built a happier and more cohesive environment where stress is minimize and harmony maximize