Singapore Says No More Cars

That's enough! Photo: Sean Gerrity/Flickr
That's enough! Photo: Sean Gerrity/Flickr

The island city-state of Singapore is capping the number of cars on its streets.

To own a car in Singapore, you need a permit. And beginning in February, the Singapore government will cease to issue additional permits. Currently, permit growth is capped at about 0.25 percent annually.

Space is just too limited to accommodate more motor vehicles. “In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network,” the Singapore government said in its announcement of the car cap.

At 277 square miles, Singapore is about the size of Lexington, Kentucky. About 12 percent of its land area is consumed by roads. Geographic constraints help explain why Singapore is a global innovator in traffic management, first introducing downtown congestion pricing back in 1975.

While Singapore is unique in some respects, it’s also responding to the same pressures that face any urbanized area of sufficient size. Cars don’t fit, so Singapore is investing in transit.

The country has expanded the length of its rail network 30 percent in the past six years, according to the government’s announcement, and is planning to invest US$14 billion on rail expansion and $3 billion on additional bus service over the next five years.

Singapore says it will reevaluate the hard cap on cars in 2020.

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