Commentary

COEs and urban planning: Time to think big and bold

COEs and urban planning: Time to think big and bold
Photo: TODAY
Published: 4:01 AM, June 12, 2013
Updated: 4:04 AM, June 12, 2013
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The Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system was first introduced to control demand for private vehicles and to serve the larger goal of keeping traffic flow efficient.

With land becoming increasingly scarce, adjustments to vehicle-related taxes need to be seen in the context of the larger challenge of land scarcity. This challenge is made more difficult by a more demanding travelling public and greater cynicism over the structure and performance of public transport.

How should this challenge be met and the difficulties moderated?

First, the Government could use the COE system to push multiple policy objectives while at the same time simplifying the system.

Rather than merely control demand, it could create one category for low carbon emission vehicles such as electric and hybrid cars, and those with CNG-fuelled engines.

The flow of available quota could be biased towards this category.

If we allow a certain minimum volume of private vehicles, amplify the benefits by requiring them to be more climate-friendly.

All other vehicles, regardless of engine capacity, could be treated as a single class with the applicable quota progressively reduced over time. If the rich bid high resulting in expensive cars crowding out cheaper cars, the premium paid by them could go to subsidising public transport.

RADICAL RETHINKING IN URBAN PLANNING

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