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Singapore policies on cars and parking to be adjusted

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Private cars will start to go the way of horse carriages in as early as 15 years' time, replaced by driverless pods that can be summoned by a mobile device.

PRIVATE CARS will start to go the way of horse carriages in as early as 15 years' time, replaced by driverless pods that can be summoned by a mobile device.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan painted this scenario during the Committee of Supply Debate on Tuesday where he mapped out the transport strategy for Singapore in 2030.

Mr Khaw said the strategy must facilitate new transport technology, welcome disruptive models, change mindsets and go car-lite.

There will be greater accessibility to an excellent public transport system with more point-to-point options.

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So in his maiden COS as Minister for Transport, he covered three areas:

- Enhancing accessibility for commuters to make it hassle free for them to move from their homes to the nearest train station or bus stop.

- How to enhance point-to-point transport options for commuters while achieving a win-win situation for both disruptive business models like Uber and GrabCar, as well as the incumbents like taxi operators.

- How to achieve excellence in public transport, especially in rail, because the current car-dominant transport model is not sustainable given Singapore's land constraints.

While self-driving technology is not yet ready for mass deployment, he said it is only a matter of time before such vehicles can be deployed for public transport.

According to Mr Khaw, a fleet of self-driving pods plying the neighbourhood can be a great boon for all.

"We are doing several trials and want Singapore to be amongst the leaders in self-driving technologies and smart transportation concepts.''

If and when that happens, Mr Khaw said it will impact existing taxi drivers.

"That is why we need to help incumbents prepare and cope with these changes.''

Mr Khaw noted that founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew once said Singapore must keep improving its bus and taxi services and keep the growth of cars to moderate levels because of limited land.

"This principle has guided our transport strategy ever since.''

At SG51, Mr Khaw said it is even clearer that a car-dominant model cannot underpin Singapore's next phase of development.

"We need to facilitate new transport technology, change mind-sets and go car-lite. Our public transport must make a quantum leap.''

At the same time, there must be a rethink and adjustment of existing car and car parking policies.

"We already house one million vehicles. Our vehicle population is nearing its peak.''

He pointed to cities which are already making adjustments, such as Berlin, London, Paris, and those in Japan, which have introduced more car-free days and either abolished minimum parking provision requirements or set them at very low levels.

"We should gradually adjust too.''

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