• Owners of motorcycles registered before 1 July 2003 to receive cash incentive of up to $3,500 to deregister their motorcycles in next five years
• Tighter standards for petrol vehicles and motorcycles currently in use
• Zero growth of car population
As Singapore’s Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system– touted as the first of its kind in the world– turned 20 this month, the country announced new measures to continue keeping both pollution and congestion down.
Incentives, tighter emissions and a cap on car population growth are the latest in two decades of policy decisions designed to control vehicle congestion and air pollution in this 717 square kilometre (about 717 square miles) island city-state of 5.56 million inhabitants.
In the first, the Singapore government is encouraging owners of motorcycles registered before 1 July 2003 to give up their bikes for a cash incentive of up to $3,500 (about US$2,650).
Owners of motorcycles registered before 1 July 2003 will receive the incentive if they de-register them over the next five years.
While motorcycles make up 15 per cent of the local vehicle population, they contribute around 50 per cent of carbon monoxide (CO) from vehicles. Motorcycle emissions contain hydrocarbons (HC) and CO, which are precursors to ground-level (or tropospheric) ozone, which is known to impair respiratory function.
Older motorcycles are more pollutive. Those that qualify for the incentive came into circulation before the introduction of Euro I emission standards for motorcycles, emitting up to about 10 times more carbon monoxide and 30 times more hydrocarbons than those of Euro IV standard– Singapore’s current requirement for motorcycles.
Around 27,000 motorcycles, or about 21 per cent of Singapore’s motorcycle fleet, are eligible for the incentive; these are about 20 years old on average. In contrast, only one per cent of cars in Singapore are 15 years old and older.
Following de-registration, the motorcycles will either be scrapped or exported to other countries.
When asked by reporters if Singapore is on track to meet national air pollution targets, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said: “This and all the initiatives, including how we tighten up our road and industrial emissions, all tie up to meet our WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines for 2020.”
Tighter standards for petrol vehicles and motorcycles
Tighter new emission standards for petrol vehicles and motorcycles in use are also due to come into force in April this year.
Carbon monoxide limits will be lowered for newer petrol vehicles and motorcycles, and hydrocarbon limits will be introduced for all in-use petrol vehicles and most motorcycles.
The revised standards are expected to yield reductions of up to 55 per cent and 51 per cent for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon vehicular emissions respectively.
For newer in-use petrol vehicles (excluding motorbikes), new tests and measurements will be introduced to detect defective components such as sensors and catalysts which could result in higher emissions.
And on 1 July 2018, fine particle pollution will be factored in to Singapore’s Vehicular Emissions Scheme, which was announced in March and came into effect on 1 January 2018. The Scheme encourages car buyers to choose models that have lower emissions across five pollutants – hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter – by offering rebates or surcharges depending on the level of the worst-performing pollutant.
Zero growth of car population
Finally, a zero-growth policy for the country’s car population announced by the Singapore government in October 2017 is being felt, albeit in a very uniquely Singaporean way: there are fewer certificates of entitlement to own a car up for grabs in the next round of bidding.
Successfully bidding for one of these certificates in one of four categories (cars are classified by fuel capacity) gives its holder the right to own a vehicle in the country for 10 years.
According to the government’s statement, roads make up 12 per cent of Singapore’s total land area.
“In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network,” it said.
Instead, the government’s transport agency said it would focus on improving the public transport system.
Over the past six years, the rail network length grew by 30 per cent and 41 new stations, new bus routes came into service and capacity was boosted on the bus network.
And, over the next five years, it plans to invest $20 billion in new rail infrastructure, $4 billion to renew, upgrade and expand rail operating assets, and another $4 billion in bus contracting subsidies, a total of $28 billion (about US$21 billion).
Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive places to own a vehicle.