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LTA may give cash rebates to persuade more to switch to public transport

By Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia
30 March 2008

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is considering giving cash instead of credits when one gives up his or her car to persuade more people to opt for public transport.

Transport Minister Raymond Lim said he has asked LTA to work with the Finance Ministry to see if Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and Additional Registration Fee (ARF) rebates can be given in cash when motorists decide to give up their cars.

This study should take about four to six months.

A whole slew of measures was announced from late January on improving bus and rail services to get more people to use public transport. A more extensive ERP system was also set up as part of the deal to keep traffic smooth.

But what kind of push do people actually need to give up their cars?

One idea that has been tossed about and was recently brought up by MP Inderjit Singh during the Budget debate is to give cash incentives.

The current situation is that when a motorist gives up his or her car, ARF and COE rebates are given in terms of credits. In order not to lose out, motorists usually end up using these credits to purchase another car.

Many people have given the feedback that if these rebates are given to them in cash, it would be more of an incentive for them not to buy another car.

But by that same token, motorists could – just as easily – take the cash rebate and purchase another vehicle.

Mr Lim said: "That can happen – I agree. That is why I said we have to study this very carefully. If we are going to do this, how best are we going to do it?"

The transport minister was speaking at the release of the detailed Masterplan report on Sunday, which marks out in detail the announcements made recently and the plans on the road map for the next 15 years, with a simpler illustrated version for the community at large.

The Community Outreach Programme to solve day-to-day problems like parking was also launched on the same day.

Over the next six months, LTA will hold 14 dialogue sessions with grassroots leaders from all constituencies. Efforts like site visits and road shows will also be stepped up at locations where there are major projects like the construction of the Downtown Line.

- CNA/so