Curb car pollution for Singapore to be more sustainable in future

TODAY Voices
Mar 22, 2012

Curb car pollution for Singapore to be more sustainable in future

Letter from Mallika Naguran

WE ARE told that the new road in Bukit Brown will improve traffic flow, which is expected to increase by up to 30 per cent by 2020.

The question we should be asking is: What kind of sustainable Singapore do we want in 2020 and beyond? By building more roads, we continue to encourage private vehicle ownership.

Public transport has been improved, with interconnected Mass Rapid Transit lines and bus networks. So why is our transport system struggling to cope?

The answer is that our planners have a fragmented view of the social, economic, environmental and development aspects of Singapore. Visions and policies do not weave together across these as they should.

Staggered work hours and telecommuting could reduce the stress on public transport during peak hours. This approach was tested 20 years ago in one statutory board but nothing has materialised since.

Flexi-work could start with working from home weekly or monthly, or by changing office hours. The Civil Service, the nation's largest employer, could take the lead.

Buses could be more frequent, with more and varied express bus services to busy areas. Bicycle lanes could be drawn within the bus lanes; half a metre is all that is needed. Melbourne sets a brilliant example of this approach and it works.

Cars are highly polluting, during manufacture, delivery and use. Car ownership here should be given the same treatment as our housing policy. Families of three or more should be allowed to buy a car more easily than singles.

Pollution tax should be incorporated in the cost of cars (besides Electronic Road Pricing). Parking rates should be made uncomfortably high, as is the case in Hong Kong. It is time to wield the stick if we are serious about reducing congestion on roads.