Friday, 24 June 2016

Public parking rates to increase from December 2016 after first revision in 14 years

HDB and URA to raise carpark charges from Dec 1
Public parking gets costlier
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 1 Jul 2016

Public parking charges across the island will go up by as much as 27 per cent from December, when the results of a government review on carpark fees kick in.

Under the new charges, drivers will have to pay $1.20 per half hour - up from $1 now - to park in the Restricted Zone (RZ), or city area. Outside the RZ, it will cost $0.60 per half hour, up from $0.50.

Monthly season parking rates will also go up by between $15 and $20 for each household's first car. Residents who use carparks with both surface and sheltered lots will have to pay $95 a month, up from $75 - an increase of 27 per cent. Households will have to pay more for subsequent cars.

The Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) made these changes public yesterday, after The Straits Times reported last month that a review was under way.

This will be the first time public parking rates are being hiked since 2002, when rates were increased about 10 per cent.

Since then, "the costs of building, operating and managing carparks have increased due to general inflation, as well as construction, manpower and other related maintenance costs", said the HDB and URA in their statement yesterday.

The HDB and URA manage 607,000 and 24,000 parking spaces respectively.

There will be no changes to the parking charges for motorcycles.

The latest increase will bring public parking charges in line with those of private operators in certain areas, particularly those outside the city.

The new parking coupons will be available at HDB branches and service centres, the URA Centre and coupon agents such as petrol stations and 7-11 outlets from October.

Old parking coupons can be exchanged for new ones by topping up the difference in value.

Letters will also be sent to inform season parking users of their revised rates by September.

Experts said the differential charges for season parking pointed towards curbing car ownership.

Season parking: Non-residents to pay more
As differentiated rates kick in from Dec 1, HDB households with 2nd car must also pay higher sum
By Rei Kurohi and Wang Tianjie, The Straits Times, 1 Jul 2016

Season parking rates at carparks outside of restricted zones and designated areas (RZ/DA) in or around the city and central regions will now be differentiated between residents and non-residents.

Previously, motorists paid the same rate in non-RZ/DA Housing Board carparks regardless of whether they lived in the estate or not.

From Dec 1, residents who buy season parking for HDB carparks within their own estate will pay $80 per month for surface and $110 for sheltered carparks for their first car. This is up from the current rates of $65 and $90 respectively.

Non-residents will pay rates of $90 for surface and $120 for sheltered carparks. Residents with more than one car will pay the same rates as non-residents for their second or subsequent cars.

"I welcome the differentiation for second cars and non-residents. It's good that they prioritise residents who need the space," said Toa Payoh resident Joan Tai, in her 40s, whose household owns one car.

However, she was unsure whether the differentiation would effectively discourage non-residents from buying season parking if, for instance, they work nearby.

"A $10 difference is not that significant. Perhaps it could even be a little higher," said Ms Tai.

Residents will be identified based on their registered address. This means households in which two different members each own a car will be considered as owning two cars, and will be required to pay the higher rate for the second car. There are some 31,500 HDB households with more than one car, out of about 981,100 resident HDB households.

Ms Dolly Chua, who lives in Serangoon Gardens, said parking fees are one of many expenses of owning a car, and the revised charges would give potential car owners a pause to re-evaluate the costs of owning a car. "There were several times I've been unable to even get a season parking coupon because of oversubscription," said Ms Chua, who is in her late 50s and self-employed in the beauty and skincare industry.

"It's not fair to people who move into a new neighbourhood and are unable to park their cars because of non-residents, or older residents who have taken up more than one parking space per household."

Family season parking ticket holders, who are allowed to park at all hours in parking spaces near their family members' homes, will continue to pay half of the residents' first-car season parking rates. The revised rates are $40 for surface and $55 for sheltered carparks. Currently, they pay half of the current undifferentiated season parking rates.

Urban Redevelopment Authority carparks, which already differentiate between residents and non-residents, will also adjust their season parking charges similarly. The residential rate for URA surface carparks will be raised from $65 to $80, the same as HDB surface carparks.

Non-residents will pay commercial monthly rates based on the area, which will start from $90 for non-RZ surface carparks, $165 for RZ surface carparks, and $190 for sheltered RZ carparks.

The lower bounds of these rates are up from $80, $140, and $170, respectively, while the upper bounds have not been adjusted.

Similar to HDB carparks, residents will pay the same commercial rates as non-residents for their second and subsequent cars.

Parking charges hike: Government taking clear stand on curbing car ownership, say experts
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 1 Jul 2016

The hike in short-term and season parking charges might not be significant enough to make motorists ditch their cars immediately, but by making it more expensive for residents to own more than one car, the Government is taking a clear stand on curbing car ownership.

Transport experts expressed this opinion yesterday, after news of the increase in public carpark fees was made public by the Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Short-term parking rates are being raised by 20 per cent, while monthly season parking charges will increase by as much as 27 per cent. Residents would also have to pay more for season parking tickets for any cars beyond their first.

The new rates will kick in this December, in the first hike since 2002.

Both agencies said prices are being revised upwards because costs of running carparks have risen.

Parking policy expert Paul Barter, from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said the increase in season parking rates was "not to be sneezed at".

"That's a few hundred dollars a year. For people thinking about renewing their certificate of entitlement or getting another COE, it's possible that this will tip a few of them into other (transport) choices," said Dr Barter.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, MP for Mountbatten, said space in Singapore is limited and those who own more than one car are adding to the demand for parking spaces.

"The signal here is: Make do with one car. If not, you must be ready to pay (more) for a second car," said Mr Lim, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.

This is not the first time the Government has signalled its intention to charge multiple-car owners more.

In 2013, the Land Transport Authority launched a public consultation that asked respondents, among other things, how a multiple-car ownership levy could be imposed - but no agreement could be reached on doing this effectively.

In April, the Ministry of National Development said in Parliament that carpark rates would be raised as Singapore became more car-lite.

But National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said the current quantum of increase was too low to cause car usage or parking demand to drop.

Motorists here already pay hefty sums for COE and other vehicle-related taxes, which encourages them to use their cars more, he said.

"By raising fees, you are dealing with demand. You also need to look at the supply as well," he said.

SIM University senior lecturer Park Byung Joon believes the latest hike is a "symbolic move", but that the Government will move soon to further restrict parking supply.

This could be done by tweaking building codes and reducing the minimum number of parking spaces that developers have to build.

Dr Park added that it could be more difficult to own more than one car in future.

"What I can foresee or expect is that in future, we can see these (cost) adjustments on a more regular basis," he said.

Public car park rates to rise in first revision after 14 years
By Wong Pei Ting, TODAY, 23 Jun 2016

The parking rates at all public car parks are set to be raised following an ongoing government review of both short-term and season parking schemes.

The price revision will be the first in 14 years.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) told TODAY that the aim of the review is to “reduce the gap between the fees charged by private and public car parks” and appropriately price “public car park charges”.

“Since (2002), the costs of managing and operating car parks have increased substantially,” the URA spokesperson added. “This is reflected in the current fees charged by most private car parks, which are substantially higher than public car parks.”

The Housing Development Board (HDB), which manages most of the public car park spaces (about 607,000 lots), is also studying parking schemes as part of its regular policy review.

“While car park charges have not changed since 2002, the provisions within old and new HDB car parks have evolved and improved over the years, to bring convenience to residents,” said a spokesperson for HDB.

She cites improvements like better-designed car parks with landscaped decks, the implementation of the Electronic Parking System and the addition of lifts at multi-storey car parks where feasible.

In addition to the revision of car park charges, the HDB is looking to put in place differentiated parking charges for non-residents who use HDB car parks, and those who require multiple parking lots because they own more than one car. This is so that the parking demand can be better managed, with priority accorded to the parking needs of residents’ primary car, the spokesperson said.

The review came two months after National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that his Ministry may have to look at raising car park charges if Singapore wants to move in the direction of a car-lite society.

The amount of increase will be announced when the review concludes, the URA spokesperson said.

HDB season parking fee for 2nd car may rise
31,500 households may be hit as board mulls over differentiated fees to manage demand
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2016

There are about 31,500 HDB households here with two or more cars, and these families may soon have to fork out more for season parking charges.

The Housing Board (HDB), which is reviewing public parking rates, provided the figures in response to queries.

There are 981,100 resident HDB households in total, according to the 2015 General Household Survey.

HDB is mulling over differentiated season parking charges for residents who own more than one car and non-residents who use its carparks to manage demand. A resident's first car will get priority.

The Straits Times first reported about the government review of both short-term and season parking schemes yesterday.

HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) did not disclose the quantum of increase.

Public parking rates were last raised in 2002. Prices also went up in 1993 and 1989. In all cases, the increase was over 10 per cent.

One family with two cars hopes concessions can be given to those who use their cars for business purposes, instead of imposing a blanket increase.

Financial planner Koh Geok Lan, 53, said she uses her car to meet clients, while her husband uses his multi-purpose vehicle to make deliveries. They pay $90 monthly for season parking tickets per car.

"Most families that own more than one car need it for work. We wouldn't want to incur more costs otherwise," said Madam Koh.

Yesterday, drivers also raised concerns over how much parking rates would increase. The URA had said the review aimed to "right-price public car park charges and reduce the gap between the fees charged by private and public carparks".

In some areas in the city, hourly rates for private carparks during peak periods are more than double that of public parking spaces.

SIM University economist Walter Theseira said an increase of 10 to 20 per cent would not be unreasonable, given the length of time since the last review.

Parking rates here are underpriced for the level of economic development, he added.

"But any change would need to come with some transition period... It would be good to let people use their old coupons at the new face value," said Dr Theseira.

MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said drivers were worried that rates could as much as double. "If it goes up by 10 cents extra per hour, I don't think people will make too much noise," he added, pointing out that public parking still needs to remain affordable to segments of the population.

The HDB and URA manage 607,000 and 24,000 parking spaces respectively.

But transport experts said increasing rates by a standard amount across the board is not the most efficient way to price parking.

Instead, parking rates could be dynamic, changing based on whether it was a peak period or in a busy area, said parking policy expert Paul Barter. "In some places, drivers could pay 25 cents per half hour, in others it could be $4 per half hour. We could do it that way."

He added that this was similar to how cities such as San Francisco price their parking - rates would be reviewed periodically to ensure occupancy targets were met.

"We set ERP (electronic road pricing) prices based on whether traffic is moving at the right speed. If speeds go up, the price drops and vice versa. Parking prices could be set the same way," said Dr Barter.



* Higher rates for peak hours at 22 popular HDB carparks

By Ng Jun Sen, The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2016

Drivers popping into the city area or a crowded hawker centre in the heartland have another reason to make it quick.

Parking at 22 popular Housing Board-managed carparks across the island has become more expensive during peak hours, with the HDB hoping it will deter drivers from lingering.

This hike is on top of a nationwide increase in rates at public carparks that began on Dec 1. Overall rates increased by 10 cents to 20 cents per half hour, depending on location.

But the rise is more drastic at the 22 carparks, generally sited in the city area and near certain food centres. For instance, rates at six HDB carparks in Rochor and Duxton shot up from $1 to $1.40 per half hour. The other 16 carparks also saw a hike from 50 cents per half hour to 80 cents now.

An HDB spokesman said that this "differential pricing" model helps to better manage parking demand in the city. Season parking holders are not affected.

News of the changes drew mixed reactions from business owners and motorists who frequent these areas. At Bras Basah Complex, carpark fees went up to $1.40 per half hour for most of the day, worrying shopkeepers who believe it discourages customers from dropping by.

Said Mr Richard Cho, 55, a watch dealer at Heng Wah Watch and Pen Company: "We are already seeing a 20 per cent drop in walk-in customers this month due to the bad economy, and the increase in parking fees does not help."

One motorist, Mr Tng Kim Guan, 50, who works in a hotel, was unhappy when he first saw the higher charges at Bras Basah Complex. But he was later relieved he was able to find a parking space more quickly.

He used to spend 10 minutes circling the carpark looking for a spot, but yesterday was able to get one immediately. "I am not sure if it is because of the higher rates, but I don't mind paying a bit more if it makes parking easier," he said.

The mixed sentiment is also mirrored at Golden Mile Food Centre, where peak-period rates were raised to 80 cents per half hour.

Several residents told The Straits Times they were glad the higher fees may discourage drivers from "clogging up" the Beach Road entrance to the carpark.

However, hawkers such as Mr Jahabar Ali, 47, said the traffic situation did not change after Dec 1. "If the congestion remains and drivers realise parking costs went up, who will still want to come and eat here?"

The higher HDB carpark rates are now similar to those charged by commercial carparks in the vicinity. For instance, parking at Bras Basah Complex is more expensive than at the nearby Odeon Towers, which charges $2.20 for the first hour and $1.10 for subsequent half- hour periods.

Previously, HDB did not charge extra for parking during peak periods. It first started to do so in 2009 at The Pinnacle@Duxton and Tekka Market to "manage the high demand for short-term parking space during peak hours and encourage higher turnover of vehicles".

HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) manage about 607,000 and 24,000 parking spaces, respectively. Asked if it will impose similar peak-period hikes, a spokesman for the URA said: "Many of URA's carparks are located in the city centre, and it has been our practice to set our charges appropriately to manage parking demand in the city. This includes charging more if necessary during peak hours."

Differential pricing to better manage parking demand

Differential parking charges were first implemented in two HDB carparks in 2009 - The Pinnacle@Duxton and Tekka Market ("Why peak hour charge at popular carparks?" by Mr Andrew Soh Wei Mun; Forum Online, Dec 8).

This was to manage the high demand for short-term parking spaces during peak hours and encourage higher turnover of vehicles.

From Dec 1, the HDB extended differential pricing to carparks where there is high demand for short-term parking during peak hours. The peak-hour timings differ across carparks because of different demand patterns.

Season-parking holders are not affected by the peak-hour charges.

Motorists entering these carparks will see a clear sign on the Electronic Parking System (EPS) gantry barrier indicating that peak-hour parking charges apply.

They can refer to the carpark signboard and HDB's InfoWEB for the peak-hour parking rates.

Eng Soh Seng
Director (Car Parks Department)
Housing & Development Board
ST Forum, 14 Dec 2016


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