Friday 28 December 2012

COE system is working fine

THE certificate of entitlement (COE) is essentially a system of control - it is meant to make prices unreachable to certain segments of society ("Car buyers want COE system reviewed"; Tuesday).

People who buy several cars are not the ones responsible for road congestion.

These car owners have essentially paid for the COE to keep the cars they are not driving in their garage. This lowers the utilisation rate of the vehicles and thus the congestion they may cause.

The most effective way to clamp down on both the COE and car prices is to restrict the loan quantum.

Let people save for their cars instead of driving away in a new car without any payment. Slap a 20 per cent or even 50 per cent down payment requirement on buyers.

However, it should be noted that only high COE prices will push people towards using public transport, or opt for car-sharing.

The system is not broken. If cars were "affordable" and freely available to everyone, it would defeat the purpose.

And some people will sing a different tune when they get a car and find that the road is too congested.

Let us keep the COE system.

Jack Lin
ST Forum, 27 Dec 2012

Want more to use public transport? Make driving less of a joy

THE suggestions regarding the certificate of entitlement (COE) system ("Car buyers want COE system reviewed"; Tuesday, and "Cooling measures needed for cars" by Mr Chew Eng Soo; Thursday) do not get to the crux of the problem.

The strength of the COE system is also its greatest weakness.

Singapore stands out among cities throughout the world as being one where driving is a joy.

The success of the COE system means that there are few traffic jams.

Our roads are well maintained and new roads are constantly being built to ease traffic congestion.

Parking is relatively plentiful and cheap compared to other city centres.

Consequently, private cars have become a highly desirable good.

This has profound implications - regardless of how one tweaks the system, its desirability will always mean that the majority of people who cannot own a car will be disgruntled.

This is regardless of whether one rations out cars purely on willingness to pay (like the current system), or partly on subjective needs (as suggested by some).

Driving, as a result of the system's success, will always be a better option than taking public transport.

There is absolutely no incentive for people to switch to public transport, no matter how great it is, when driving is such a desirable option.

In many other cities, even the rich would leave their cars at home and take the subway to work because that is preferable to sitting for hours in a traffic jam, or circling the blocks looking for a parking space.

The solution, then, is obvious, if counter-intuitive.

There needs to be more traffic congestion, not less. Only then would it be preferable to take a train.

The COE system thus has not failed; rather, it has worked too well.

Calvin Cheng
ST Forum, 29 Dec 2012

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