Jump to content

Are motorists subsidised?

Are motorists subsidised?

Sign in to follow this  
SGCM_editorial

6,777 views

blog-0610110001400134280.jpg

blogentry-129174-0-48996400-1400134367_thumb.jpgJuxtapose a recent proposal to keep public transport fares affordable for lower-income groups with the perennial complaint about high car prices (higher for some now), and you have a veritable class divide.

 

Our bus and train fares are among the lowest in the developed world, based purely on distance covered. But when it comes to service quality standards such as network comprehensiveness, waiting time and reliability, the comparison becomes murkier. Alright, let’s not mince words: The standards available to public transport commuters here are not up to mark.

 

On the other hand, motorists journey in “Business Class” here. There are roads to every nook and corner of the island, the tarmac is well maintained (except for the occasional sinkhole) and well-lit, traffic is relatively free-flowing, there is ample parking, and drivers are often able to drive faster than stipulated by regulation.

 

blogentry-129174-0-23915600-1400134372_thumb.jpgYou may say motorists travel “Business Class” because they pay “Business Class” fares – mainly in the form of high car prices. Well, let me be provocative here, and assert that Singapore car owners aren’t paying full fare. That is, their travel is being subsidised. Firstly, let’s look at infrastructure, and compare the two costliest and most current new projects – the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) and the MRT Downtown Line (DTL). The 5km, 10-lane MCE costs $4.72 billion, or $944 million per kilometre, to build. When it opens later this year, it will take up to 10,000 vehicles per hour each direction. Assuming there are two people in each car (it’s often one), and assuming bi-directional volumes are the same (they often aren’t), you will get 40,000 “rides” per hour.

 

On its part, the 42km DTL costs $20.7 billion, or $493 million per kilometre to build. When fully operational by 2017, it will cater to 500,000 passenger rides per day – or close to 42,000 rides per hour (based on 12-hour train operations).

 

So you see, the MCE not only costs almost twice as much as the DTL per kilometre, it also carries fewer people. And as part of an underground, undersea link between the Kallang-Paya Lebar and Ayer Rajah expressways, it is unlikely to be used by public buses – which means it is almost exclusively the territory of private transport users.

A 2005 study funded by the European Commission, titled “Hidden Subsidies for Urban Car Transportation – Public Funds for Private Transport”, found that government expenditure for private transport almost always outstrips car-related revenue. It found that said expenditure is mostly associated with road building and maintenance – not only of the roads themselves, but the green spaces alongside them, too.

 

blogentry-129174-0-76732300-1400134376_thumb.jpgIn Singapore, the annual cost of road maintenance is about $100 million, or about $100 per vehicle. This is relatively low – until you factor in the cost of real estate (something Singaporeans can all relate to pretty well). Roads take up 12 per cent of our land, which works out to about 86 sq km, or 926 million sq ft. Based on, say, $3,600 psf (recent freehold commercial plot transactions), the road space will cost $3.33 trillion, or $3.3 million per road user here.

 

Of course, this illustration is a tad facetious, because we cannot do without roads altogether. But if you were to imagine a rail network in place of a road network, the cost equation would be completely different.

 

Rail lines can be largely underground, and high-density developments can be built above them. There will be no pollution and no accidents, either.

 

Which brings me to the next cost element that motorists do not bear fully: environmental cost and the cost of accidents. In 2006, the United Nations estimated that road fatalities and injuries cost countries US$518 billion (S$641 billion) a year, accounting for one to two per cent of the gross national product. Singapore’s GNP is about $342 billion. One per cent of that works out to $3.42 billion, or $3,420 per road user per year.

 

blogentry-129174-0-69397200-1400134381_thumb.jpgEnvironmental cost is harder to quantify in dollar terms, but the impact is just as tangible. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that traffic emissions led to 5,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. Based on the average carbon emission of cars here and the average annual mileage clocked, each driver in Singapore produces about 3.7 tonnes of CO2 a year. So each year, the average car emits twice its own weight in carbon.

 

Let’s get back to monetary cost comparisons. A family of two adults and two schoolgoing children relying solely on public transport is estimated to spend $250 a month on it. But since a journey by car is about twice as speedy as that by public transport, we have to factor in the value of money. The value of money varies widely from one person to the next, so let’s make it simple and apply a conservative multiplier of two to the monthly expenditure. That makes $500.

 

Now, $500 is close to the monthly running cost of a COE Category A car, excluding the cost of purchase. The sunk cost of purchase will translate to around $1,000 a month, which the non-car owner gets to save for holidays or retirement. But this $1,000 more per month allows the same family to enjoy “Business Class” travel – access to a far higher level of mobility (e.g. Changi Point for breakfast, a walk by the beach afterwards, lunch and shopping in Orchard Road, and a quiet dinner at a friend’s place), and a measure of status. Not to mention the joy of driving.

 

And going by gut feel, $1,000 a month does not cover all the externalities mentioned earlier, nor the pleasure of driving on roads that cost nearly $1 billion per kilometre in Singapore.

 

This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.

Sign in to follow this  


18 Comments


Recommended Comments

So what is the writer's agenda and message he's trying to put across?

Share this comment


Link to comment

It may seem that motorists are being subsidized in terms of general transportation from one point to another. If you factor in the cheaper erp fares that average drivers pay compared to MRT fees, they do seem to be subsidised compared to commuters on public transport. However, other than the fares drivers pay for travel, they also have to pay for other high cost necessities such as road tax, COE, parking fees and fuel, on top of the cost for the car itself. All summed up, the cost of travelling in a car costs dozens or more recently, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

All of a sudden, drivers don't look to be as subsidized now, do they?

Share this comment


Link to comment

If you want to argue, everything is also "subsidized", even if air travel on business class, be it market subsidies or not market subsidies. Just an excuse to invent more taxes to milk you.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Every road in Singapore is MCE? What an idiotic comparison?

 

What about the $70b in COE revenue collected every 10 years (800k vehicles at average premium of $70k a piece), it could build 12 MCE every 10 year or 1 MCE a year but I don't see LTA building 1 MCE a year, more like 1 every 5-10 years and we haven't even talked about other vehicle and usage charges.

 

Whatever spending on roads, even expensive one like MCE (which is supposed to free up precious real estate for development), I am pretty sure it will pay for itself via COE, ERP, road tax, petrol tax... How can we be subsidized? It is a bloody cash cow for the government.

 

If the article is about efficiency between public and private transport, then we don't need Christopher to write such a long article to tell us.

 

Share this comment


Link to comment

Like I have said before his views are pretty much biased. There's totally no mention of the car tax structure, the COE thing and ERP. Tell me what country other dan Singapore has such a high taxation structure for owning a car?

He also did not mention that public transport also has emissions. Overloading the buses gives out more smog and CO2 if you had not notice. And how many times were the bus companies fined? And how much were they fined? We all know that our electrcity comes from burning barrels of oil. Do you know how many barrels of oil are burnt to run the MRT trains? How much emission was produced in the process? If the trains are overloaded how much more electricity is needed to move the trains during peak hour?

Who can also play this kind of numbers game. I just have to say it to my advantage to get to my agenda. But one thing about Singapore is that people around you and me are not fools. They see where you are coming from and they can see right through you and your words.

Cheers.

Share this comment


Link to comment

WTF! Chris Tan again. f**k off lah. All his articles are full of crap. How does one become an editor with such poorly written articles. It amazes me how anyone could possibly want to hire him.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Using real estate prices to pin point cost per km but forgotten 1 fact that without roads, real estate worth nothing.

 

Like running a warehouse fully pack, rack after rack but without aisle to load/off load cargo, do you think the warehouse can run & be profitable?

Share this comment


Link to comment

Thank goodness that I never read torque because of such lousy article. I think torque will lose a lot of readership after this.

 

Boycott torque in order to boycott Chris!

Share this comment


Link to comment

I have never liked his articles.

 

 

This takes the cake

Share this comment


Link to comment

Read with an open mind. this is just another way of looking at it, though it did not the other side. perhaps he will have a part 2

Share this comment


Link to comment

I don't usually comment or voice out about any article as I do enjoy the occasional articles from MCF.

 

But this article smack full of PAP propaganda and full of government BS.

 

Roads are a key infrastructure in any country, are you sure that as consumer, motorists, we are the sole users of the roads in SG? Have you considered that in the first place, the roads are designed and built so that public transportation and commercial transportation can move from one end to another?

 

Our car prices are already the world most expensive and its only going to go even higher.

 

In term of taxation, we are already paying close to 400% to 500% when you add all the different components that we are paying when we buy a car.

 

I just don't see how the word 'subsided' can be used when we are paying through our noses just buying the car.

 

And let not get started on the rest of the taxation on running the car.

Share this comment


Link to comment

If you ever takes MRT in morning to CBD for free, that is call "subsidies" for sure.

 

It seems that the writer has defined the term "subsidies" so loosely that I am not sure he knows what he is writing afterall or what he is trying to put the message across from his articles.

Share this comment


Link to comment

So simple yet dunno. If tell people we are paying a hundred or hundreds of thousand for a car and that is being subsdised, people sure laugh at us.

Share this comment


Link to comment

PS, author. Driving a basic piece of metal on 4 wheels should never cost an arm and a leg. But they do including the surgical and medical fees associated with said appendages in this part of the world. Instead of the government subsidizing us, it's quite obviously the other way around.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Featured Stories

    Should cyclists be allowed on the road?

    The Year 2030  “2030” is a synonymous year for all matters environmental-related. If you have read my previous article, "2030 might be the end of the world for car enthusiasts and the sports cars they love”, you would be familiar with the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (SGP 2030). If you have not, feel free to read it: In addition to phasing out Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles and encouraging the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EV), the government is also promoting sustainable living by encouraging cycling as a mode of transport.    The government has set a target to triple cycling paths from 460km to 1,320km by 2030, hoping that this network would provide cyclists with a safe and comfortable journey within and between various towns in Singapore.    Cycling in Singapore  In recent years, the uptake of cycling as a leisure activity and a mode of transport has sharply increased. This is evident from the increased sighting of cycling enthusiasts, otherwise known as “Tour De Singapore” cyclists and food delivery riders alike.    Furthermore, the banning of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) on roads as of 3rd April 2020 has also incited users to switch to bicycles or Power-Assisted Bicycles (PABs), which also contributed to the increase of cyclists.  The Cyclist Segmentation  I learned something rather intriguing yet insightful — Not all cyclists are the same.    Yes, they are all cyclists on the road but their intention and behaviour are grossly different.   “Tour De Singapore” cyclists are those that cycle to maintain an active lifestyle, which can be for leisure purposes or as a mode of transport. More often than not, this segment of cyclists will be riding on their road bikes which can easily hit 20km/h or faster. Their key objective includes clocking in a certain distance during their session (Eg. 20km), completing an entire cycling route (Eg. SG round island route, Marina Bay Loop) or even hitting a personal best for their cycling speed.  Conversely, the key objective for food delivery riders is pretty straightforward — to complete their order in the fastest and most efficient way possible.   And lastly, the final segment of cyclists — Young Punks (YPs) and their fixed-gear bicycles. Frankly, I have no clue as to why they are even on the road. This group of cyclists definitely do not deserve to be on the road, as their bicycles do not even have brakes equipped. These YPs lack the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as helmets to make things worse.    Why Cycle On The Road?  From my understanding, there are two main but non-exhaustive reasons why cyclists prefer riding on the road:   Cycling on the road is smoother, as compared to cycling on pavements.   Certain bicycles, such as road bikes, are made to travel fast. Therefore, cycling on pavements or park connectors are unsuitable due to their speed limit restrictions of 10km/h and 25km/h, respectively.  The Black Sheep  They are everywhere. There is almost no escape from encountering these black sheep from the cycling community.    The list of black sheep curated on MyCarForum’s Blog category is sufficient to explain the point I am trying to bring across. Just take a look below:  Notice how all these incidents took place while the cyclist was riding on the road? MMMM...  If you wish to see more instances of black sheep from the cycling community, do a simple search in the search bar of MyCarForum (Refer below).  With the anonymous identity of these black sheep, there is almost no way they can be held accountable for committing traffic offences. The most that could happen to them is getting caught in the act by the police/LTA or being “trended” from online dashcam submissions of these black sheep. Otherwise, they will probably get off scot-free.    In most vehicle-cyclist accidents, the driver would be penalised regardless of who is at fault. However, there are certain occurrences (Refer below) where the errant cyclist is penalised for his wrongdoing.    Despite not being penalised, the driver remains the ultimate loser as the cost of repairing the damaged vehicle will remain borne by him. This frustration undoubtedly creates a sense of anguish and helplessness among drivers whenever a cyclist flouts traffic rules. “Praise is fleeting, but brickbats we recall”  Unfortunately for the cycling community, the presence of black sheep across the various segments has created a typical stereotype on cyclists regardless if they are responsible road users or not.    Sadly, the notorious reputation of cyclists is so deeply ingrained in the public’s perception that it may no longer be possible to remove that stereotypical notion.   For every kind act performed by a cyclist, there are always many others whose actions serve as a disservice to the cycling community. After all, it is in human nature that we remember the wrongs as compared to the rights.  According to the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules under the Road Traffic Act (Chapter 276, Section 140), cyclists should practice the following while riding on roads:  Ensure bicycles are equipped with working and functional brakes.   Wearing a suitable protective bicycle helmet securely while cycling.  Using hand signal to inform traffic of the cyclist’s intention (Eg. To stop, slow down, proceed left/right)   Travel in a single file at all times. Unless on a lane with two or more lanes (in the same direction), travelling abreast is allowed.    Cycle as near as possible to the left of the road.   Cycle in an orderly and safe manner and obey the flow of traffic.   If cycling during hours of darkness (7 pm – 7 am), your bicycle must be equipped with appropriate lighting at the front and rear.  In other words, unless the cyclist is an individual with traffic knowledge (driving/riding license) and can ADHERE STRICTLY to the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules under the Road Traffic Act (Chapter 276, Section 140), cyclists should be OFF our roads entirely.   If you are interested, feel free to read the online copy of the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules under the Road Traffic Act here: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/SL/RTA1961-R3#pr5-.     --- Thinking of selling your car? sgCarMart Quotz guarantees the highest selling price for your car. We’ll even give you $100 cash if you find a better offer elsewhere! Get a free quote to find out how much your car is worth today!  

    thatJDMahboy

    thatJDMahboy

    You know you have it made in life when you can use a BMW Z4 to house your potted plants

    This is probably one of the most luxuriously decorated bus stops in Singapore. The video showcases a bus stop decorated with potted plants, statues of white elephants and, get this, a yellow BMW Z4 Roadster. Yep, you read that right – a yellow BMW Z4 Roadster just sitting there as part of the decor. I don’t even know where to begin. Whose car does this belong to? Why is it just sitting there? Does LTA know about this? How did the owner come about with this idea? Where exactly is this BMW located? Sitting at 3 Chin Bee Avenue, the yellow car decoration is thought to belong to the company P’art 1 Design. According to the company’s social media pages, it is responsible for providing display lights for different festivals and events throughout Singapore. This includes the Hari Raya light display at Geylang Serai, the Deepavali light display at Little India and Christmas displays for malls. While this Google Street view screengrab did not feature the BMW (as it is taken in July 2020), the white elephant statues indicate that this is the exact location that is featured on the viral video. Netizens’ reactions Honestly, as long as it’s legally okay for the owner to place his vehicle there, I don’t see the harm in using this car as décor. It's obvious that it's not in use anymore and it certainly brings more vibrance and life to the area by being a cool statement piece.      -------- Thinking of selling your car? sgCarMart Quotz guarantees the highest selling price for your car. We’ll even give you $100 cash if you find a better offer elsewhere! Get a free quote to find out how much your car is worth today!

    unicornfloof

    unicornfloof

    Jaywalker thinks he can use the "force" to stop oncoming traffic

    Jaywalking is a common sight in Singapore that is done WHEN TRAFFIC IS CLEAR ( I am sure we are guilty of doing it before). But then, there's this guy. Watch this short video to see how this dumb pedestrian jaywalks: This incident took place along Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, towards Ang Mo Kio Ave 5. Plain dumb or ignorant? Of all the times to jaywalk, this fella decides to jaywalk when an oncoming car approaches the traffic light. And the worst part is that he doesn't even bother to look left and right for traffic before crossing.  A near-miss The jaywalker can be seen raising his hand and using the "force" to stop the cam car just before it hits him. (Nah, I am kidding - If not for the cam car's quick reflexes, an accident would have already occurred.) The worst part about it is that the jaywalker did not seem to realise that he almost got into an accident and walks off, cool as a cucumber Netizens' comments LMAO, the ending got me.  Ah boy, stop jaywalking and learn your lesson ok? If there is really a need to jaywalk, at least ensure traffic is clear before doing so.  Please cherish your life. You may not be so lucky the next time around.   --- Thinking of selling your car? sgCarMart Quotz guarantees the highest selling price for your car. We’ll even give you $100 cash if you find a better offer elsewhere! Get a free quote to find out how much your car is worth today!  

    thatJDMahboy

    thatJDMahboy

    Insanely reckless Nissan Sylphy tries to overtake oil tanker and causes chain collision

    A grey Nissan Sylphy attempted to recklessly overtake an oil tanker, which resulted in a chain collision accident along the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE). In the video, the oil tanker could be seen travelling on the second middle lane while the grey car (concealed by the tanker) was on the outermost left lane. Within seconds, the bonnet of the grey car could be seen as the driver attempts to shift into the second middle lane, despite being so close to the heavy-duty vehicle. As expected, the grey Sylphy ends up in a T-bone collision with the oil tanker, which then led to the car spinning and colliding with a yellow taxi in the middle lane. The impact of the crash threw the taxi off its lane and into the road divider, which led to a fourth hit as the camcar could not stop in time. The video ends with the grey Nissan hitting the yellow taxi a second time as it flies towards the road divider from the impact of the first hit with the oil tanker. This huge accident led to a closure of three lanes of the expressway and a 3-hour jam during the lunch peak period. Netizens' reactions From the comments, it's clear that what the grey Nissan did was insanely reckless and impulsive. TBH, I have no idea what the driver was thinking. In what scenario would overtaking an oil tanker be a good idea? Why would anyone even do that?   Another incident with the same driver A more recent video showed the same grey Nissan Sylphy blocking the road at a petrol station.  Despite the blurry footage, the grey car was identified to have the same license plate. According to the camcar driver, he was attempting to leave the petrol station when he saw the vehicle parked in the middle of the road.  After repeatedly honking, the driver noticed that the owner of the grey Nissan was actually at the ATM on the right. This inconsiderate behaviour is really infuriating to watch. First, he causes a chain collision on an expressway and now, he's parking his vehicle in the middle of the road for his own convenience?  ---  Thinking of selling your car? sgCarMart Quotz guarantees the highest selling price for your car. We’ll even give you $100 cash if you find a better offer elsewhere! Get a free quote to find out how much your car is worth today!

    unicornfloof

    unicornfloof

×