Car ownership remains an aspiration for many Singaporeans, even as we improve and expand the public transport system and ameliorate the environmental impact personal cars have. Roads now occupy 12 per cent of our land area, compared to 14 per cent for housing. Given Singapore’s land constraints, we need to control and manage the number of vehicles using the roads or risk perennial grid-lock.
Launched in May 1990, the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system has been effective in controlling the growth of the vehicle population. It requires aspiring vehicle owners to bid for a COE through an online open auction. The COE price therefore reflects the amount that buyers are willing to pay to own a new car, private bus, goods vehicle or motorcycle.
The COE gives private car owner the right to own and use the vehicle for 10 years, after which the owner can choose to de-register the vehicle or renew the COE.
Land transport accounts for about 15 per cent of Singapore’s emissions, for which internal combustion engines are a significant contributor. Bearing this in mind along with the expansion of the public transport network, we have been reducing the vehicle growth rate over the years. As part of the Land Transport Master Plan 2008, this was reduced from 3 per cent in May 2009 to 1.5 per cent in July 2012. The rate was further reduced to 1 per cent in August 2012, 0.5 per cent in February 2013 and 0.25 percent in February 2015.
From 2018, this rate was down to zero for all categories except Category C for goods vehicles and buses (0.25 per cent) to provide businesses with time to improve the efficiency of their logistics operations and reduce the number of commercial vehicles they require. We will maintain the current rate until 31 January 2025.