Off-peak cars reduced by over 75 per cent in 10 years
The number of red-plate cars here fell to just 12,028 last December, according to Land Transport Authority (LTA) statistics. This is down from 50,040 in 2010, or a drop of over 75 per cent in 10 years.
Red-plate, or off-peak cars, cannot be driven on the roads between 7am and 7pm on weekdays. Drivers on the scheme get rebates of up to $17,000 on a new off-peak car and a $500 discount on annual road tax.
To drive during restricted hours, they have to buy a day licence for $20.
Despite the scheme's falling popularity, The Straits Times understands the authorities have no plans to do away with it.
Experts, however, noted that it should not be resuscitated as it no longer fits into Singapore's overall transport policy.
Associate Professor Walter Theseira of the Singapore University of Social Sciences said the off-peak car scheme was introduced in 1994 as a way of broadening access to car ownership by making it cheaper.
It was also seen as a way to help manage congestion, he said, by keeping red-plate cars off the roads during peak hours.
Both these purposes have since become obsolete.
"Our thinking has changed over time. (We now think) we should instead find ways to help reduce demand for car ownership by providing meaningful and better alternatives through public and shared transport," he said.
"In addition, our ability to target car usage when it causes congestion has improved substantially, with the further development of the ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) system," he added.
With certificate of entitlement prices high, the off-peak car scheme discount matters less to price-sensitive consumers.
Singaporeans are also becoming more affluent, which makes them less willing to accept restrictions on their driving time.
In 2019, 2,581 drivers converted their off-peak cars to normal cars. Last year, 1,460 did so.