Singapore possesses all the ingredients for traffic disaster. The island city-state has a large population (3 million), a limited land area (626.4, booming economic growth and one of the highest automobile densities in the world (81 per km of roadway, vs. 43 in Japan and 17 in the U.S.). In other rapidly growing Asian metropolises, like Bangkok, Taipei and Seoul, such conditions have wreaked bumper-to-bumper bedlam- in the streets.

Yet, Singapore’s traffic moves smoothly. Much of the explanation lies in sound urban planning and an effective mass-transit system. Traffic-flow engineering – like restricted zones that bar automobiles without a special permit – also helps. But the main thing that keeps gridlock at bay is the government’s decree that the car population can grow no faster than the road network – some 2% to 3% a year.


Smart Singapore Traffic Policy
Smart Sinapore



That policy, though effective at avoiding road snarls, has led to the highest car prices in the world. For starters, all cars are slapped with a 45% import tariff. Then owners must pay a one-time registration fee of $600, plus an additional charge equal to 150% of the car’s market value. When even those regulations failed to stem the natural demand, Singapore, in 1990, unveiled its toughest requirement yet: the Certificate of Entitlement, a permit available only in limited numbers that prospective car buyers must obtain before making their purchases.

COEs are sold through a complex auction system; the prices vary each month depending on the number of bidders. The result is that buying a car can be far costlier in some months than in others. January’s COE prices hit record highs: $10,061 for a Honda Civic (up $2,208 since December), $11,212 for a Honda Accord (up $2,242). When added to the basic costs of the car, import duties and registration fees, it means that a Civic would cost around $40,780, an Accord would run some $56,600. Oh yes, and since the government wants to cut down not only congestion but also air pollution, all new cars sold after next July will require catalytic converters, adding about $1,200 to the price.

Singapore's Traffic Systems
Singapore’s Traffic Systems

And all this merely gets the car to the driveway. The owner must then pay annual road taxes. These fees vary with the size of the vehicle, averaging $690 for a Civic and $1,200 for an Accord. The cumulative result of these schemes: automobile sales for 1991 were down 10% from the previous year, to 24,000. Anyone seeking to avoid all these extra costs by holding onto an old clunker runs into another welter of regulations. An owner gets a substantial credit toward the registration and permit for a replacement only if the previous car is scrapped before it is 10 years old.

Cars dating back 10 years or more are socked with an annual road-tax surcharge of 10%; those 14 years or older pay a 50% surcharge. Singaporeans are sympathetic to the government’s goal of keeping traffic moving, but the mood has soured as COEs have soared in price, placing the ownership of an automobile beyond the reach of all but the very wealthy or the very desperate.

Singapore's Traffic
Singapore’s Traffic Policy

A. Provide the following information. 1. Singapore’s population: •
2. Singapore’s land area: 3. Singapore’s automobile density: ; 4. what COE stands for:
5. the total cost after taxes of a Honda Civic: 6. the total cost after taxes of a Honda Accord:
7. the cost of catalytic converters: 8. the number of cars sold in 1991:
9. the annual road-tax surcharge for cars which are 10 years and older:

10. the annual road-tax surcharge for cars which are 14 years and older:


B. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. Singapore has a higher automobile density than Japan.

2. Bangkok, Taipei and Seoul have serious traffic problems.

3. All Singaporean citizens face two extra charges or taxes when buying a car.

4. COEs are sold at a fixed price.

5. The Singaporean government doesn’t care about the air pollution caused by traffic.

6. Despite all efforts, car sales in Singapore increased in 1991.

7. The government discourages people from using cars which are over 10 years old.

8. The traffic moves smoothly in Singapore.

9. Singaporeans disapprove of the price of the COEs.

10. The government control on cars and traffic is very weak in Singapore

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