Opinions · Singapore

Singapore Runners Most Uncertain as Car Park Fee Increases

by On Jul 4, 2016

With the increase in car park fees, we might see an overcrowding of runners on the streets during peak hours.

Singapore Runners Most Uncertain as Car Park Fee Increases

Upon hearing the recent announcement — that car park fees in Singapore are slated to increase — you might have been struck speechless. This is no easy news to absorb if you depend upon car parks for work and play.

This is equally unsettling to runners in Singapore as they have to consider the increase of people abandoning their cars and sharing the already crowded public transport and running routes in Singapore.

While increases are inevitable as of 1st December, you still have choices: Accept the increase and adjust your budget or buck the tide by altering your behaviour so you’re no longer a slave to car park price increases in the future.

The Situation

A while ago, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing and Development Board (HDB) met behind closed doors to discuss raising Singapore car park rates for the first time since 2002. Attendees knew this would provoke public outcry, since rate hikes would impact both short-term and seasonal parking space fees. Consumers who own more than one car or who patronise multiple car parks will be hit the hardest.

Given the enormity of the task at hand (raising rates) and the ongoing needs of Singaporeans in this crowded land, government officials have quite the job ahead. The HDB alone manages over 600,000 spaces and the URA is responsible for about 24,000 car park lots, so if you get out your calculator you may have a better understanding of how seriously this will impact consumers who already live on tight budgets.

Singapore Runners Most Uncertain as Car Park Fee Increases

Photo Credit: 123RF

Why The Price Hike?

Whether you notice them or not, the continual stream of improvements, upgrades and fixes required to maintain these parking structures over the years cost a fortune. Money generated from the 2002 price hike went towards better design, more capacity, the facilitation of the Electronic Parking System, landscaped decks for more curb appeal and lifts which are critical to the smooth flow of traffic at multi-story structures.

It’s important to mention that Singapore’s increased standard of living costs impact every government agency, so some comfort can be found in these two facts: Having gone 14 years without a price increase is rather amazing when compared to other escalating costs throughout the nation. In fact, public car parks remain a bargain compared to private car lot fees which have skyrocketed even more over time.

The Hike is Set for December

Christmas arrives early this year for government agencies: both the HDB and URA concluded that they had no choice but to hype short-term and seasonal rates, beginning 1st December. If you park outside restricted or designated zones, expect to pay an additional S$0.10 per half hour, bringing the rate from S$0.50 to S$0.60 in most residential areas.

Park within restricted zones or designated areas and your wallet will take a bigger hit. Stow your car in areas like Rochor, Outram, CBD and Orchard and pay S$1.20 rather than the S$1 rate you currently hand over.

Drivers taking advantage of reduced seasonal rates won’t escape the increase, either. If you’re currently paying S$65 for a surface spot, it’s going to cost S$80 per month after 1st December, and sheltered space costs escalate from S$90 to S$110. Yikes. Own two cars? You’ll pay dearly for parking privileges to the tune of about S$25 more.

Singapore Runners Most Uncertain as Car Park Fee Increases

Photo Credit: 123RF

Fee Increases Are a Band-Aid; Not a Solution

It’s no secret that many people living and working in Singapore would like to see the nation become a “car-lite society.” Traffic congestion makes travel throughout the country a hassle, exhaust fumes from so many cars pollute the air — despite engine improvements in the past decade — and the stress to which people are exposed as a result of sitting in endless traffic has had a profound influence on the Singapore way of life.

Further, whole neighbourhoods are disturbed by drivers who circle blocks like buzzards over prey in an effort to snag a spot while adding to the congestion. That’s why many officials are beginning to believe that a portion of revenues raised when parking costs increase should be diverted to projects that find ways to eliminate the ever-increasing number of automobiles in Singapore.

One parking policy expert spoke for a large segment of society when he insinuated that the government should stop focusing on collecting more revenue earmarked for maintaining car parks and instead, “study pricing as a means of managing congestion and parking demand.” For car-dependent Singaporeans, this may be easier said than done.

What Can You Do to Help Turn the Tide?

If you agree with the proposition that there are simply too many cars in Singapore, you can either shrug your shoulders and say, “Everything costs more in Singapore these days and this is no different," or you can adopt a “one person can make a difference” mentality and figure out what you can do to effect change in the future.

Singapore Runners Most Uncertain as Car Park Fee Increases

Photo Credit: 123RF

  1. Maybe it’s time to make friends with Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit subway service. Few nations have rail systems that are as clean and "efficient" as ours, and one glance at an MRT map tells a story of service, convenient stops and routes and you couldn’t find a better on-time way to get where you need to go.
  2. Singapore bus routes cover the nation and can also get you to lots of destinations in a timely manner. Combine bus routes to get as close to your destination as possible and take a daily run/walk to cover the rest of the distance.
  3. Perhaps you could "spearhead a movement" to hike parking prices higher so Singapore winds up in the same league as London, Tokyo and New York City! All three have raised parking rates so high, only the rich can afford to park in each city. Commuters from all walks of life use mass transit because they have no other option.
  4. Run to and from work to get your conditioning and exercising taken care of in a timely manner. Lobby your company’s executives for lockers and showers that encourage employees to keep changes of clothing at work so morning runners get great exercise en route to the office and are fresh and ready to go after cleaning up.

Runners, Trade Your Car For Your Feet; Benefit in Many Ways!

  • Gain valuable extra time. If you run to and from work, your pre- or post-work runs can be eliminated.
  • Save a bundle! What would you do with the money if you kiss your monthly car park fees goodbye?
  • Keep your weight on an even keel by running rather than driving to work.
  • Stress-reduction benefits are immeasurable. You may live longer if you substitute your feet for your wheels.
  • Petrol, car repairs, maintenance and car insurance could be diminished or disappear from your budget.
  • You’ll sleep better at night thanks to running off post-work stress that builds during your work day.
  • Harvard University says daily runners have more sex and better sex than those who drive, so if this doesn’t convince you, you may want to gird your loins for more Singapore car park rate increases down the road!

Have you become fed up with the huge costs incurred with driving to and from work each day and taken action to change your method of transportation to running? We’d love to hear what you did and how you did it.

For runners, are you concerned that there will be an influx of runners crowding our favorite running routes? Shouldn't we encourage people to take up running or use other mobility devices?

Nathaniel is a disciplined casual runner and a lover of bananas. As a columnist for RunSociety, he is always on the lookout for exciting and controversial topics that touch the heart of the running community in Singapore, often adding in his funny observations. He has embarked on a mission to start a world class running group in Asia.

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