Writing to the press, Nick Fellows, managing director of a transport consultancy, suggests a "simple solution" to a problem that had the Land Transport Authority (LTA) polling 3,700 and interviewed another 200 to address the Certificate Of Entitlement (COE) dilemma. Simply stated, there are 535,000 private cars in Singapore. Based on a lifespan of 10 years, and no extension, this equates to 53,500 COEs per year. Release 53,500 COEs a year, he recommended, instead of the current 24,000 limit, which is pushing the price of the piece of paper towards $100,000.
There is another simple way to look at the problem. The COE system was started 23 years ago, when the total population (citizens and permanent residents) was 3.047 million. In 2012, the official statistic is 5.312 million. The number of foreigners in-country have not been included. Unless the kilometers of road have kept pace with the growth of vehicle owners, the nightmare of the grid-lock can only be epic when the population hits 6.9 million.
Havard University's Professor Susan Fainstein was quoted as saying a just city, not just a global city, has three essential attributes: equity, diversity and democracy. Oh, we have diversity, we even have Indians speaking different languages, Tamil and Hindi. On democracy, someone wrote that "it would be a stretch to say that the residents of Singapore feel they have significantly more voice and enjoy more democratic rights today than they did a decade ago." It is equity in private transportation that is even more hurting.
A fixed supply of COEs is only part of the problem, making them available only to those with deep pockets is the other. Pity the karang guni man making the rounds with his beat up Nissan pickup. Soon he will be reduced to pushing a cart, like the sad old women collecting cardboard boxes to stay alive. Meanwhile high worth individuals from around the world are continually encouraged to move into the crowded city. For these guys, what better conspicuous display of wealth than a string of COEs? Everybody else is packed like sardines into the public transportation metallic boxes, straight from their public housing pigeon holes in the sky.