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Old February 22nd, 2004, 09:43 PM   #1
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Singapore's General Transportation News and Discussions Thread

Pay higher MRT fares so more can own cars?

By Christopher Tan


WOULD you pay $5 to $10 for each pass of an electronic road pricing (ERP) gantry so that a neighbour who's earning a little less than you can afford to own a car? Put in a less altruistic way, would you accept those ERP charges so that car prices remain affordable to you when you next change your car?

Lower ownership costs = higher usage charges. Higher car population = higher usage charges. These are inescapable equations motorists in Singapore should be familiar with.

On an island where 12 per cent of available space is devoted to roads, and a car population that has grown by 32 per cent in the last decade, logic dictates that for the growth to speed up, something else has to give.

It's hard to say how much ERP charges will be in future, but a former minister of state for transport (it was then called communications) gave a hint four years ago. He revealed that if ERP were to be implemented islandwide - there are 43 locations now - the average daily charge might be $20. ERP rates currently hover between $0.50 and $2.50, largely unchanged since the scheme started in 1998.

But are higher ERP rates or wider ERP coverage the only solutions to congestion? Unlikely. While there are a large number of Singaporeans who buy a car because of status, there are those who depend on the car on a daily basis for commuting.

So an excellent public transport system can also become a powerful car demand management tool. Take Hong Kong for instance. Car ownership there is lower than Singapore's (despite lower prices), but it has twice the density of rail lines as Singapore. Of course it had a headstart in mass rapid transit.

Singapore is proud of its public transport system, having spent billions on it in recent years. Nevertheless, a feedback forum chaired by Professor K. Raguraman of the National University of Singapore recently found that Singaporeans wanted more money to be spent on buses and trains. Participants felt that the amount invested in public transport was not commensurate with the amount of revenue collected from road users. They also wanted more MRT lines to be built and built earlier.

A similar argument rages on and off in London. It's been a year since motorists entering central London have to pay a £5 (S$16) toll. The scheme has undoubtedly improved traffic flow. In the first six months alone, central London's traffic dropped 16 per cent, and average trip by car became 14 per cent quicker.

Although the ERP-style scheme worked well, there is some disenchantment over the public transport system - especially the subway. Londoners feel that the scheme would have been so much more effective if money had been spent on improving public transport before the toll was implemented. This way, those who do not wish to pay the toll could then have a better alternative.

In Singapore, where a relatively high percentage of trips are still made via private cars (going by average annual mileage of 18,000km to 20,000km per car), that's certainly something to think about. Especially if ERP charges are set to rise.

The catch here is that MRT lines, while they are the preferred and efficient mode of transit, are extremely costly. Building them without a sizeable commuter base would result in higher fares. Singapore, after all, has only about half the population of Hong Kong, for instance.

In that case, a twisted version of the question that began this article could be posed. Would you pay higher MRT fares so that you - or your neighbour - can aspire or continue to own a car?
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 08:48 AM   #2
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I think it is better to tax the gas usage on cars and that the tax money should go to build MRTS and subvention the MRT-fare.

for instance.
gas price in Sweden is 9 Swedish krona / per L (litre) = 2.08 Singapore Dollar.

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Old February 23rd, 2004, 10:37 PM   #3
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Silver cabs, golden touches

By Goh Chin Lian

Free on this ride:
- Air purifier
- Wet towels
- Choice of music

Premier, the new kid in the expanding taxi market, ups the ante by providing extras at no extra charge. It plans to have 200 taxis by the end of this year


PREMIER Taxi, the third of Singapore's three new cab companies, will take to the roads on March 1, offering passengers such perks as wet towels to refresh themselves with and a choice of CDs to listen to during the ride.

The cabs, which will be metallic silver in colour, will also have air purifiers and ionisers in them. All these extras will come at no extra charge. 'Competing on price will be literally committing suicide,' said the company's general manager, Mr David Chen. 'We want to give our passengers as comfortable a ride as possible.'

The company plans to start with 50 taxis, which it has nicknamed 'Silvercabs', and is calling its 6363-6888 hotline 'Silverline'. Its booking fee will be $3, the same as Smart Automobile, another of the three newbies, and veteran CityCab. Tibs Taxis charges $2.80, and Comfort and Trans-Cab, $3.20. Premier's flagdown fare will be $2.40, like everyone else.

The company, owned by two siblings of the Chua family which founded car dealer Cycle & Carriage, plans to add 50 3-litre Toyota Crowns every two months to its fleet. Its target is to have at least 200 taxis by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the other two new cab companies, Smart and Trans-Cab, are expanding their fleets, barely a month after they started and well before they are required to by transport regulations. As new entrants, they have up to four years to build up the size of their fleet to a minimum of 400 taxis, and need to have 100 by the end of their first year in business.

Smart, with 30 light-green cabs, plans to add another 50 by early next month and 50 more in the next few weeks. Trans-Cab, which has 50 red-and-white vehicles, plans to put 29 more on the road on Feb 25 and another 21 on March 9.

Both companies said that their takings have been good but the number of taxis they now have is too small to cope with the bookings they have been receiving. The extra vehicles will also increase the amount of money they make from renting out the cabs. Trans-Cab, the larger of the two, can meet only two in 10 calls every day on average.

The size of their fleets has limited the impact on the three incumbents, Comfort, CityCab and Tibs Taxis, which have a total of about 19,000 cabs. According to the three taxi operators' associations, the new entrants have not affected their members' takings so far, partly because business is apparently at its best in the first three months of the year. They expect things to become more competitive later in the year when the number of available fares falls and more new cabs start plying.

While the new entrants have not taken away many passengers, they have been drawing a number of experienced drivers from the three incumbents. About 90 of the 100 cabbies that Premier has so far recruited have at least two years' experience.

To attract drivers, Premier is offering $2 off the daily rental fee for every year that a cabby rents its taxi. CityCab and Tibs announced similar schemes last month. Premier's daily rental fee, at $92.40, is about the industry average. Smart has the lowest rate, at $90.50, while Yellow-Top Taxis charges the highest, $94.08.

Premier is hoping that its silver shine will help it catch the eye of prospective passengers and that the vehicles' numbers will give it a fillip. Said Mr Chen: 'All our licence plates start with the number 8. It's a lucky number.'
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 10:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by drwho

I think it is better to tax the gas usage on cars and that the tax money should go to build MRTS and subvention the MRT-fare.

for instance.
gas price in Sweden is 9 Swedish krona / per L (litre) = 2.08 Singapore Dollar.

Hmm....I am not too sure about the cost of petrol here...anyone has any ideas?
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Old February 24th, 2004, 03:05 AM   #5
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metallic coloured cabs..so cool!

and numbers starting with 8? LOL
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Old February 24th, 2004, 10:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by RafflesCity

metallic coloured cabs..so cool!

and numbers starting with 8? LOL
I dont seem to remember seeing them yet...either they are too few, or I cant recognise them as cabs at all?
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Old February 24th, 2004, 03:06 PM   #7
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At least theyre using Toyota Crowns, nice and spacious.

Sometimes when I take taxi I purposely wait for the bigger ones.
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Old February 24th, 2004, 03:14 PM   #8
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Provied you arent in a queue that is, which brings me to the discussions over taxi queues. It dosent make sense anymore for price differentiation between companies if you cant, in theory, choose your cab campany unless u are prepared to offer the unwanted cab to the next passenger in line till you see the one you want?
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Old March 1st, 2004, 07:31 PM   #9
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Premier Taxi promotes healthy ride in launch of 50 new Silvercabs

1 March 2004



SINGAPORE : A new fleet of 50 taxis in metallic silver colour hit the road on Monday - the latest additions to Singapore's public transport.

Premier Taxi - the new kid on the block - calls them Silvercabs.

They are all equipped with air purifiers and ionisers to offer a clean and healthy ride.

When a passenger boards a Silvercab, they will first get a wet towel to cool themselves down, especially under such hot weather.

They can then select the music they want from a variety of 12 CDs. Such pampering is what differentiates Silvercabs from the rest.

And these perks come at no extra cost.

The flagdown fare for Silvercabs is the same as others - at $2.40.

The booking fee is $3 - similar to CityCab and Smart Automobile, another newcomer in the taxi market.

Silvercab drivers will also receive their fair share of benefits.

Their daily rental fee will drop by $2 every year.

And after eight years of rental, they will get a bonus of $8,000.

Perks like that have attracted many experienced taxi drivers from bigger players like Comfort, CityCab and Tibs.

"They are very thoughtful to us, listen to us, our comments and they try their best to give us what we want."

"Maybe we try this Premier cab, we can get new life, new opportunities that are very good from this company."

"New cars are important to us. We can save time on car maintenance. To us, time is money."

Mr Timothy Chua, Chairman of Premier Taxis, said: "The welfare of our drivers, who are essentially our customers, is of paramount importance for the success of my business plan.

"Any taxi driver can come and approach me and tell me his problems, and I will handle it in whatever it needs to be handled."

Premier Taxi plans to roll out 50 new cabs every two months.

It expects to have at least 200 taxis on the road by the end of this year.

Mr Chua also commented on the tough competition, including from TIBS which plans to add another 1,000 taxis in the near term.

Mr Chua said: "At this stage, we are still too small.....we have to wait and see how aggressive they are and perform a reactive strategy, and use things in the marketing matrix to take away their market share."

On the rise in excise duties on taxis, Mr Chua said it would affect his business.

"COE will be very important. The price of COE will offset any excise duty gains, so parallel between the stock market and COE will be an item to watch," he added. - CNA
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Old March 1st, 2004, 09:18 PM   #10
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dudes..whats the petrol price in Singapore?
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Old March 1st, 2004, 09:30 PM   #11
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Tibs brand to make way for SMRT's

Name and colours will be gradually dropped from company's buses and taxis, completing merger with MRT operator

By Christopher Tan


IF YOU see a Tibs bus, take a good look at it. It may be one of the last times you see that yellow and orange carriage. The name Trans-Island Bus, or Tibs, will be dropped soon. Train operator SMRT Corp, Tibs' parent company, will replace it with its own name and its corporate colours of red, black and grey, completing its 2001 takeover.

Tibs was started by sportsman-entrepreneur Ng Ser Miang in 1982, soon after the Government said it wanted a competitor for giant SBS. It started operations in 1983 with 37 buses plying two services in Yishun and Sembawang. It was a David muscling in on Goliath then, with the company eking out an early existence in cargo containers-turned-offices.

Growth came from the expansion of new Housing Board towns as well as transfers of SBS routes. In 1987, Tibs was publicly listed. When it became part of SMRT, it had about 70 routes, about one-third of SBS'.

The 'merger' followed a call from the Government for transport operators to be 'multi-modal', so as to provide seamless travel. But SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa said the merger might not have been totally necessary.

At the time of union, though, former SMRT chairman Chew Choon Seng said it was to 'facilitate the meshing of bus and train services, shorten overall travel time, encourage usage of public transport and enhance revenue growth'.

Ms Saw told The Straits Times: 'Logistically, a totally seamless transport system doesn't work... Each time the train comes, it's 1,000-over people getting off. You can't have buses waiting for 1,000-over people. They'd jam up the whole bus stop.'

Realistically, the scenario would be 'get off, wait a few minutes, and get on'. 'That is the model,' she said. 'So being one company or being two companies really doesn't have any material effects.'

So why did SMRT pay $194 million for Tibs? 'I don't know the full rationale behind the acquisition. My priority is now to maximise the situation,' Ms Saw said, explaining that her task is to optimise synergy between the two companies.

And she is pleased that two years after taking over Tibs, integration with SMRT has finally taken place. Backroom operations, such as finance, human resource and information technology, have all been merged.

The final piece to be put in place is the name change, which will affect about 800 Tibs buses and more than 2,000 taxis. But Ms Saw said the change would be done gradually and cost-effectively.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 09:19 PM   #12
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Crackdown on unlicensed buses between Singapore and Senai Airport

2 March 2004

SINGAPORE : The Singapore government has cracked down on unlicensed buses plying between Singapore and Senai in Malaysia's southern Johor state.

Action was taken Tuesday against two buses shuttling passengers between Lavendar MRT station and the Johor airport.

The buses did not have the necessary licences nor insurance to cover passengers in case of an accident.

It is understood several passengers were on their way to catch AirAsia flights out of Senai Airport.

Both drivers had to give statements.

The unlicensed bus operations are being investigated by the LTA. - CNA
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 09:18 PM   #13
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Tax-break blues for drivers of 'green' cars

By Christopher Tan


SINGAPORE's maiden fleet of fuel cell-powered Mercedes-Benzes will go on the road soon. Details of the seven cars, along with who they will be assigned to, will be announced next week at an event at the Conrad Hotel. It's likely to be a glitzy affair, with the spin doctors proclaiming how this is a bold and visionary step for Singapore.

No doubt, it will be. Singapore's meteoric growth in the last four decades has largely been driven by its thirst for knowledge. Here, technologies such as those employed in electric, hybrid, or fuel cell vehicles are exciting not only because they are environmentally-correct, but also because of their potential economic spin-offs.

If Singapore gets a head start by being one of the few countries to 'test-bed' vehicles such as the fuel cell Mercedes A-class cars, it could gain an edge in the knowledge race. The strategy would directly benefit sectors such as electronics, chemicals and software solutions.

That would justify the millions in taxes Singapore will exempt these cars from. In the case of the fuel cell Mercs, the amount is substantial as each is estimated to cost more than $1.5 million - or what a Rolls-Royce limousine might fetch.

Two years ago, a fleet of 30 petrol-electric Honda Civics were granted similar tax exemptions. The fleet is used in a car sharing/rental scheme in the city centre and makes use of a satellite-based management system. Without tax breaks, which include certificate of entitlement (COE) exemption, each car would have cost $120,000 or more at the time.

The Honda scheme met with limited success until it teamed up recently with NTUC Income's car co-op. As for the seven fuel cell Mercs (out of a total of 60 produced), they will be assigned to private institutions and government bodies, including one for the National Environment Agency. All well and good, because, as mentioned, 'test-bedding' these cars will hopefully raise Singapore's knowledge quotient by a notch or two.

What's puzzling though is why we do not have an equal approach for private citizens who want to drive such new-tech vehicles. In December, the Government extended a three-year 'green rebate' programme for another two years. But the extension did little to address the chasm between the price of an alternative-energy vehicle and a conventional one.

Even with the rebate scheme, a car like the Toyota Prius - a petrol-electric hybrid - costs about $25,000 more than an equivalent model like the Corolla. The new Prius, incidentally, is technologically superior to the hybrid Civic used in the rental fleet that was accorded the generous tax exemptions. Not only does it have lower emissions, it has options like bluetooth communications, and an industry-first self-park system.

Can we address the anomaly between incentives granted for 'test-bed' vehicles and those accessible to ordinary consumers who want to go green? Should we?

It depends on who you believe. Car-makers at the forefront of alternative power research reckon the days of the internal combustion engine are dwindling. BMW believes that by 2020, half of all the new cars it sells will run on hydrogen. Toyota also states that the ultimate automotive energy source will be hydrogen, but hybrid engines are viable choices until hydrogen technology becomes commercially viable.

But if you ask the oil producers, you will get another view. ExxonMobil, for instance, reckons fossil fuel will remain the primary power source for decades to come. What they fail to point out is there will come a time when the cost of extracting oil (from currently economically-inaccessible places) will rise to a level which makes alternatives palatable.

Here, where petrol duty is both government revenue and part and parcel of a car-control policy, there could be an additional reluctance to facilitate a proliferation of alternative-power vehicles.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 01:58 AM   #14
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AirAsia denies running Senai bus service

4 March 2004

Budget airline said it had accepted independent bus operator's offer, and wasn't aware permits not obtained

By Karamjit Kaur

BUDGET carrier AirAsia yesterday denied it was providing a bus service to ferry its passengers between Singapore and Senai Airport in Johor. An independent company is doing so, it said.

The airline also insisted it was not aware that the operators of the service do not have the necessary permits to run it.

Mr Tony Fernandes, chief executive of the Malaysian low-cost airline, said that the carrier had been approached by a Malaysian bus operator offering to provide the ser- vice.

AirAsia accepted its proposal and decided that as a service to its customers, it would not charge for the bus rides, which it has been advertising on its website until recently.

'We relied on the representatives of the bus company that all permits and insurance were in order and all necessary requirements fulfilled,' he said.

It is not clear whether AirAsia had asked to see the permits and why the airline's suspicions were not raised by the bus company's offer, as an earlier application to operate a bus link between Singapore and Senai was turned down by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) only in December.

AirAsia had tried for almost a year before that to get the LTA to approve a direct link between Changi Airport and Senai, which would have cut travel time for passengers from about two hours to one.

The unlicensed bus service started on Monday; on Tuesday, at about 5pm, LTA's enforcement officers impounded two buses at Lavender MRT station.

One was a Singapore vehicle registered to Luxury Coach Service, which was about to leave for Senai with about 20 passengers on board. The second was Malaysian-registered and had just arrived from Senai.

The Straits Times understands that the passengers on the Singapore bus ended up taking taxis to Senai.

Mr Fernandes said in a statement: 'We're still unclear why the bus was stopped and we hope the authorities will give a satisfactory reply.'

Meanwhile, the LTA has interviewed the drivers and owners of both buses and will decide later what action it will take against them, if any.

A spokesman said that both buses are authorised to carry tourists between Singapore and Malaysia. However, their licences do not allow them to operate scheduled services between Lavender MRT station and Senai.

The managing director of Luxury Coach Service, Mr Vincent Lee, 52, said he was shocked when he found out his bus had been impounded.

He claimed that the driver had not informed him he had entered into a private agreement with the Malaysian bus operator.

Mr Lee, who spent the morning at the LTA office in Sin Ming Road where his 45-seater bus is parked, said: 'Now, I can't get my bus back until the investigations are over. Every day it's parked I lose about $400.'

The company operates a fleet of 44 buses, which runs between Singapore and Malaysia.

The drivers of the two impounded buses and the boss of the Malaysian bus company could not be contacted.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 10:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
It is not clear whether AirAsia had asked to see the permits and why the airline's suspicions were not raised by the bus company's offer, as an earlier application to operate a bus link between Singapore and Senai was turned down by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) only in December.
Hmm.............
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Old March 4th, 2004, 10:05 PM   #16
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An interesting way to reduce the number of cars on the roads?

Surge in car-share scheme membership

By Christopher Tan


A FIRST-of-its-kind car-sharing scheme started two years ago has more than trebled its fleet and garnered 600 members. Honda Diracc, known as the Honda Intelligent Community Vehicle System when it was launched here in February 2002, started with 15 cars. It now has 50 petrol-electric Civics.

Each Diracc car has an orange-blue number plate, signifying that they are on a research and development grant - from the Economic Development Board - and thus exempted from hefty taxes. Honda Diracc director Gan Kok Seng said each car costs around $30,000, compared with about $100,000 for an equivalent Civic hybrid sold by authorised agent Kah Motor. 'This grant's not forever. It's only for three or four years,' he explained, adding that it would be reviewed.

The scheme's membership reached 200 last June, and trebled after that. Mr Gan said this was after Diracc was rebranded, the time-based charges reduced, and a tie-up formed with the NTUC Income car cooperative in December. No bookings are necessary to use Diracc cars. Through a sophisticated computer and satellite-tracking system, a user can check their availability at eight locations via SMS. He gets in the car using an ez-link card, keys in a PIN and drop-off point, and drives off.

The scheme was originally meant to maximise the use of cars and parking lots within the city but members had other ideas. Most cars were taken overnight, over weekends or on public holidays. So the charging format that penalised long-time usage was changed. To improve daytime use, Mr Gan is targeting corporations, which now make up 40 per cent of members. Diracc also aims to have three more locations and 600 more members in a year's time.

Though the firm is in deficit, it is planning a business model without a tax break. Honda plans to apply the system elsewhere too, with Japan, China and Europe as possible venues.
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"My Settlement of Singapore continues to thrive most wonderfully - it is all and everything I could wish and, if no untimely fate awaits it, promises to become the Emporium and the pride of the East" - Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, 10th September 1820
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Old March 4th, 2004, 10:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by huaiwei

Hmm.............
I think they close one eye lah..hoping not to get caught

But I am impressed that the authorities were quick to detect something as innocent as boarding a coach
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Old March 10th, 2004, 03:31 PM   #18
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SBS is not increasing the fare this year but SMRT is still considering.
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Old March 10th, 2004, 03:41 PM   #19
huaiwei
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They have a fantastic excuse for increasing fares..."oh because SMS TRansit have higher fares"

My arse. Last time SBS Transit have higher fares was because it was reasoned it was justified to recoup the very high costs of building the line, and that the area is not built-up enough. Has this become an excuse for the other operator to up fares? And if this is so, maybe SBS is now justified to up their fares again rite?

They seem to think we suffer from amnesia.
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"My Settlement of Singapore continues to thrive most wonderfully - it is all and everything I could wish and, if no untimely fate awaits it, promises to become the Emporium and the pride of the East" - Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, 10th September 1820
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Old March 10th, 2004, 10:32 PM   #20
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Fee to convert off-peak car cut to $100

LTA: $700 reduction prompted by public feedback

By Christopher Tan


CAR owners can now convert a car from off-peak to normal usage for $100 instead of $800. Public feedback prompted the $700 cut, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday. The decision was taken after a recent review of the scheme, which was reported first by The Straits Times in January.

The change brings the fee in line with the existing charge levied for converting a normal car to an off-peak vehicle. 'The previous fee was pegged to the $800 discount on road tax off-peak cars enjoyed,' said an LTA spokesman. 'It was also thought to discourage frivolous conversions.'

The off-peak car scheme was introduced in 1994 to allow more people to own cars but not contribute to peak-hour congestion. Buyers paid lower taxes for such cars, but they could be driven only on evenings, weekends and public holidays.

The 1994 scheme was a revision of the 1991 weekend car scheme, which was found to favour buyers of large and expensive models. Since October 2000, they have been able to convert their cars, which bear red plates, to normal cars. About 1,000 were converted between 2001 and last year.

Owners pay the conversion fee, as well as a pro-rated amount of a normal car's taxes or certificate of entitlement (COE). Off-peak cars enjoy tax rebates of up to $17,000 (which can be used to offset COE premium or additional registration fee), and a yearly $800 discount on road tax.

The conversion option has boosted the popularity of the scheme. Fewer than 100 a year were registered in the late 1990s, but last year, the number surged to a record 920, partly fuelled by lower car prices. At the end of last year, there were 2,644 off-peak cars on the road - 0.65 per cent of the car population of about 405,000.
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Majulah Singapura 前进吧,新加坡!Onward Singapore முன்னேறட்டும் சிங்கப்பூர்

"My Settlement of Singapore continues to thrive most wonderfully - it is all and everything I could wish and, if no untimely fate awaits it, promises to become the Emporium and the pride of the East" - Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, 10th September 1820
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