SINGAPORE: Like many different younger adults within the noughties, I bought my driver’s licence whereas I used to be in college.
Again in these days, it was assumed that many people would finally personal a automobile after we began working full-time, so getting that license was virtually a ceremony of passage.
Because it turned out, I by no means bought round to purchasing a automobile. For starters, I’ve by no means been thrilled on the considered having to spend such an exorbitant sum of money on a depreciating asset like a car.
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Then, there have been the day-to-day realities of driving that in the end deterred me from taking the plunge.
From having to cope with dangerous visitors and parking nightmares to an ever rising checklist of car-related bills that included highway tax, Digital Highway Pricing (ERP), insurance coverage, upkeep and petrol, the effort and value of driving have at all times outweighed the advantages of automobile possession for me.
As a substitute, like many others in Singapore, I turned to the nation’s ever bettering public transport system as my major methodology of getting round, happy that I used to be saving cash and being eco-friendly on the similar time.
I’m conscious that for 1000’s of individuals, this is not even about selection. With restricted means, they merely need to depend on public transport to get to work, get their youngsters to high school and tuition or exit as a household.
That is precisely why our well-oiled transport community is such a boon.
Commentary: What is going to it take to make Singapore really car-lite?
OUR CAR-LITE SYSTEM WORKS WELL
Over time, with the widespread adoption of know-how and the Authorities’s push in the direction of a car-lite system, I’ve by no means felt like I used to be compromising on my high quality of life by not proudly owning a automobile.
The continued enhancements to the general public transport system corresponding to enhanced bus frequencies are paying off large time. Moreover, bus route and timing apps have made it a breeze to plot one’s journey whereas minimising ready time.
The spotlessly clear trains are a pleasure to experience too. From simply two MRT strains, there at the moment are six strains – with extra strains and extensions slated to open over the subsequent decade to cowl a distance of 360km, a major improve from the present 230km. The objective is for eight in 10 Singaporeans to be inside a ten minute stroll of an MRT station by 2030.
In actuality, the community of buses and trains already brings us very near a 10-minute (or much less) stroll to simply about any vacation spot on this island so these developments will solely make it even simpler to get round.
Today, my public transport commutes are typically seamless sufficient that I at all times look ahead to bus rides. They’re a “each day luxurious” the place I can take pleasure in 20 to half-hour of uninterrupted me-time whereas having fun with the view from the window.
As for occasions after I merely have to get someplace quick or if the vacation spot will not be serviced by public transport, there are many ride-hailing apps to make use of.
Lengthy gone are the times after we needed to stand by the kerbside within the hopes of flagging down an empty taxi. Or worse, having to undergo the indignity of a taxi driver rudely dashing off when he decides one’s vacation spot is one way or the other too inconvenient for him to do his job.
Now, with a number of faucets on my smartphone, a automobile pulls up at my doorstep inside a matter of minutes.
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FINALLY WELCOMING ELECTRIC CARS TO OUR ROADS
In Tuesday’s Price range speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat introduced a slew of incentives to encourage the adoption of electrical automobiles (EV), whereas on the similar time phasing out inside combustion engine (ICE) automobiles.
From decreasing the Further Registration Charge (ARF) ground to zero for electrical vehicles to revising highway tax bands, the measures definitely assist to make it extra reasonably priced to personal an EV.
These monetary measures, in tandem with the instant improve in petrol obligation charges, will doubtless spur an growing variety of drivers to change to an EV in the end.
It definitely is about time that electrical car utilization is being inspired. Bear in mind how again in 2016 the proprietor of Singapore’s first Tesla Mannequin S, a automobile which doesn’t produce direct carbon emissions, was slapped with a baffling S$15,000 carbon tax?
Now, the Authorities is dedicating S$30 million to varied EV initiatives, together with constructing charging factors at public carparks and personal premises.
Plus, there are such a lot of extra decisions in relation to buying an EV. Moreover Tesla, many automobile manufacturers starting from the excessive finish corresponding to Audi and BMW, to extra reasonably priced names together with Hyundai and Toyota, now provide their very own variations of inexperienced wheels.
It’s nearly sufficient to make one head to the automobile showrooms over the weekend to take a look at what’s new – however not fairly.
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(With new inexperienced targets introduced by the Singapore Authorities, when will we be seeing extra electrical automobiles on our roads? And can city council and condominium committees get entangled? The creator and a enterprise professor weigh in on CNA’s Coronary heart of the Matter:)
IS EV SHARING THE NEXT BIG THING?
Whereas the EV initiatives are an excellent eco-friendly choice for many who want to proceed proudly owning vehicles, I’m nonetheless not about to leap on the automobile possession bandwagon.
Possibly it’s a millennial factor. In any case, our technology is the one which has made the sharing financial system a norm, from co-working areas and staying at Airbnbs on holidays to reselling undesirable possessions on apps like Carousell.
So I’m definitely not against car-sharing too – a probably reasonably priced different to automobile possession that hopefully may very well be the subsequent public good to come back out of the Price range initiatives.
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For some time now, I’ve been inquisitive about EV rental service BlueSG, because it has arrange a charging station inside my HDB property. Nevertheless, I’ve seen that vehicles will not be at all times accessible there after I want one.
And since parking spots with charging factors will not be but extensively put in islandwide, it’s most of the time that I must park the automobile at a major distance from my vacation spot, therefore main me to decide on a bus, prepare or Seize as an alternative.
With the Authorities committing to constructing extra charging factors, it’s doable that EV sharing might develop into extra commonplace and extensively adopted. It’s also a sensible answer to a possible scarcity of EV charging factors.
Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung beforehand mentioned that the previous goal of 28,000 charging factors to be constructed by 2030 may not have the ability to assist the anticipated development in EVs. This goal has since been elevated to 60,000 charging factors by 2030, as introduced by Minister Heng in his Price range speech.
Automotive sharing might nonetheless assist to ease the burden on charging factors and easy the transition to EVs, whereas nonetheless adhering to the nation’s car-lite ethos.
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I for one will surely welcome this as one other viable transport choice to my already respectable basket of decisions.
However reality be instructed, I’m in no hurry to place that driver’s license to make use of. Reasonably, I’m completely completely happy to spend the remainder of my life being “chauffeured” from one place to a different through public transport as an alternative.
Karen is a contract way of life and journey journalist, and a graduate of Columbia College’s Faculty of Journalism in New York Metropolis.