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.

  • Southeasterner

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

    They are capping the number of Singapore registered vehicles. Many wealthy Singaporeans own “apartments” across the bridge(s) in Johor, Malaysia and just drive around in their Malaysian registered vehicles and park them in their condo buildings in Singapore, avoiding the permit fees which can often be twice as much as the value of the car. The new limit will further encourage this behavior.

    To make this regulation effective they would have to also block foreign registered vehicles which would be a political no-no as the rich upper class would revolt.

    The true solution is pricing parking and roads and making it extremely inconvenient to own a car. In combination with expanding an already incredible transportation system of course!

  • Stephen Simac

    I thought I read they have already been using congestion pricing. they might have to start caning drivers to make this work.

  • Ray

    They need to just raise the road pricing fees, and use that money to pay for shared automated vehicles for the masses.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Is it possible for the congestion price to charge extra to vehicles that aren’t registered in Singapore?

  • Daniella

    That would be politically contentious and Malaysia would retaliate.

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