Try a softer, incentive-driven approach in traffic management

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Wow, nation-building through car-pooling? Tongue

Try a softer, incentive-driven approach in traffic management
Letter from Philip Kwek 04:45 AM Nov 28, 2011

CAR ownership is both a necessity and a status symbol. Despite the cost, many people aspire to own one, if the wallet permits.

With the car population increasing, roads and car parks are being expanded, for a freer flow of traffic.

Measures such as Electronic Road Pricing and Certificates of Entitlement, introduced to supplement the existing "deterrences" of import duties and road taxes, have only added to government coffers, though, with minimum effect on traffic management.

While car ownership is not discouraged, the use of cars is. The latter contributes to pollution, congestion and economic costs from time lost in traffic jams and rising demand for parking spaces.

While there are no one-glove-fits-all solutions in traffic management, there are some socially acceptable ones.

Ideally, public transport should be as seamless, reliable and punctual as possible. If it is convenient and reasonably priced, many will switch to public transport.

Apart from this, incentives such as ERP discounts should be given for car pooling. I notice that most cars, during congestion, only contain the driver. Car pooling would help and may enhance social interaction, build cohesion among people and, who knows, increase the number of marriages.

Co-ownership of cars between two or more families should also be allowed, without the constraints of co-operative rules and sub-leasing regulations.

As for parking, the cost of full-day parking should be lower at all Mass Rapid Transit stations and bus terminals.

Incidentally, the buildings in our shopping belt (Orchard Road) and business district (Shenton Way) are not all linked, nor are there sheltered walkways. It is not uncommon, in our weather, to drive down the road instead of walking to another building.

The above suggestions are non-exhaustive but it is noticeable that our traffic management has been based on disincentives and are punitive in nature. Why not try a softer, more incentive-driven approach?

It would not only lower the cost of living but also build a happier, more cohesive society.

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