Authorities in Singapore have announced a plan to limit the number of private cars on its streets t0 the number currently in use starting in 2018. After that date, apparently, one existing car will need to be retired from service before a new vehicle will be allowed on the roadways. There are about 600,000 vehicles on the road in the city at present.
The problem is, Singapore has no room to put any more cars. Roads already account for 12% of the total area of city-state. The number of new cars is already capped at 0.25% a year but starting next year even that minuscule number will fall to zero. Commercial vehicles and buses will still be allowed to grow at the 0.25% a year rate.
Currently, citizens of Singapore must apply for a certificate of entitlement before they can purchase a vehicle. The certificate cost the equivalent of $37,000 and is only good for 10 years. The government also imposes stiff tariffs on vehicles. A typical Toyota small sedan costs about four times as much in Singapore as it does in the US, including the cost of the certificate.
Thanks to the high cost of vehicles, Singapore has mostly avoided the crushing traffic jams that are common in other Asian cities and authorities want to keep things that way. They say they will invest about $20 billion over the next decade to improve its public transportation system, which will lessen the need for private cars. The city is already experimenting with self driving buses that operate on hydrogen fuel cell technology and autonomous passenger pods on certain carefully defined routes.
The key in the future for crowded cities like Singapore may be autonomous cars and ride sharing services. In theory, one autonomous car can replace up to 10 privately owned vehicles, which sit idle more than 90% of the time during the work day. Instead of taking up space in a parking lot, an autonomous car could be busy ferrying others from place to place all day long, greatly reducing the number of private cars needed on city streets.
Less cars means less room would be needed for parking lots, freeing up valuable urban land for other, more productive uses such as parks, recreational facilities, bike lanes and walking paths.
Source: The Guardian Hat tip to Are Hansen