In brief

Singapore will stop issuing new vehicle permits starting February of 2018. The government points to limited space available in the city-state as the reason for the halt in vehicle growth.

Limited space in Singapore

The city-state of Singapore has announced a plan to reduce the vehicle growth rate from 0.25 percent per year to 0 percent for cars and motorcycles. Due to the limited space available, Singapore controls the number of vehicles on the road to a great degree.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) issues permits, known as Certificates of Entitlement, that give vehicle owners the right to have their vehicle for a period of ten years. The permits are auctioned off. The last auction ended with the highest bidder paying $41,617 (US $30,533.39) only for the privilege of being able to operate the vehicle.

The government cites the limited available land area as a reason behind the halt. The LTA stated, “In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network.” Roads currently take up twelve percent of the city’s total land area. There are more than 600,000 private and rental cars on this limited road space. The growth rate for commercial vehicles will remain at 0.25 percent.

Climate change

The restriction on new cars will make it even more difficult to own a car in Singapore, which remains one of the most expensive places to own a vehicle. According to Reuters, mid-range vehicles can cost more than four times the price of the same vehicle in the U.S.

However, increased restriction on vehicle ownership will have some positive side effects, at least in terms of environmental impact. Less cars on the roads of Singapore will mean less pollution for fossil fuel burning engines. Also, halting the expansion of the roads system in the country will prevent further transportation development of natural spaces. Even without expansion, not adding new vehicles will prevent the current system from becoming overcrowded, also preventing environmentally harmful gridlock.

The new restrictions will not impact the number of permits available. The LTA will re-evaluate the policy for cars and motorcycles in 2020 and for commercial vehicles in March of 2021.