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Public car park space at Pasir Ris (Source : reinventingparking.org)

Public car park rates will be increased for the first time in 14 years

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing and Development Board (HDB) has announced that public car park rates will be increased and made effective on 1 December at end of this year after it held a review on the rates. This increase of parking rates for public car park charges for both short-term and season parking will be the first increase in 14 years since 2002.

HDB said it may implement different car park rates for non-residents who are using its parking lot, as well as residents who own more than one car, therefore need more parking spaces. “Differentiated parking charges could help to better manage parking demand, with priority accorded to the parking needs of residents’ first car,” it said.

HDB, which manages about 607,000 car parking spaces, said that despite the unchanging car park charges within 14 years, they have been making improvements. “Some examples of improvements include better-designed car parks with landscaped decks, implementation of the Electronic Parking System to regulate parking demand more effectively and the addition of lifts at existing MSCPs (multi-storey car parks) where feasible,” it said.

URA, which manages about 24,000 car parking lots, said that they need to make the smaller gap between the charge of public and private parking lots. “The last islandwide revision of car park charges was done 14 years ago in 2002. Since then, the costs of managing and operating car parks have increased substantially. This is reflected in the current fees charged by most private car parks, which are substantially higher than public car parks,” it said.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in parliament that the public car park rates need to be raised to bring them in line with those in other cities and for Singapore to become a car-lite society. Two months after his speech, the review of the carpark fees came out.

A parking policy expert reportedly said that the Government should focusing on studying pricing as means of managing congestion and parking demand, rather than covering higher costs and this should be done on a more regular basis. This could mean varying rates depending on location, time and occupancy.

"The primary purpose of the price is actually to ration that car park - to make sure that it's not totally full. Because full parking causes all sorts of nasty side effects. You get queues outside, you get people circling around the neighbourhood and that causes all sorts of nasty problems including traffic congestion," said Dr Paul Barter, Adjunct Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

"What we need to do in Singapore is to get back to the original idea that pricing street parking has a purpose, and we avoid overdoing it as well so that we don't have empty parking (lots) either," he added.

The raise in the charge surely set some people off. A man, by name Chee Hian on Facebook, did a research by himself to question the rationales of the increase.

He posted on the Ministry of National Development's Facebook page about the shocking number he found.

He claimed that he had gone through a research of the annual reports of HDB and URA and highlighted three points in his posting.

  1. According to the annual reports of HBD for FY 14/15, the income from "Car park income" was $595,247,000 and the expenses of "Operating fee for car park maintenance expenses and others" was $78,859,000. While URA's income from "Parking fees and other charges" for FY14/15 was $71,284,000 and the expenses of "Property and car park maintenance" was $11,955,000.

    Total combined income and expenses were $666,531,000 and $90,814,000. This means that HBD and URA's income is at 7.33x the expenses.

  2. Secondly, in the annual reports, both HBD and URA noted "noted that the last price revision was in 2002" and a URA's spokesman said " Since then, the cost of managing and operating car parks have increased substantially."

    According to annual reports, HBD's car parks income increased from $522,942,000 (FY09/10) to $595,247,000 (FY14/15), averaging increment of $14,461,000 per year and car park expenses increased from $38,729,000 to $78,859,000 averaging increment of $8,026,000 per year. While URA's car park income increased from $50,582,000 (FY02/03) to $71,284,000 (FY14/15) averaging increment of $1,725,250 per year and car park expenses  increased from $6,831,000 (FY02/02) to $11,955,000 (FY14/15) averaging increment of $428,500 per year.

    It can be seen clearly that the income had been increased extensively than the cost.

  3. Lastly, he said that HBD and URA are public car parks. The point here lays on the keyword, "public". They both are government agencies therefore they should put public's importance in mind everytime they make decisions since Singaporeans pay taxes to the Government for them to manage the country not to fleece the public and increase the profit.

The Ministry replied to his post by saying that the expenses he cited from the annual reports did not include financing, depreciation, and overall operating expenses of carpark management and maintenance.

For details of the increased parking fees, visit URA's website here.