Wheels Asia - - Feature -

Our boys take on what it means to be car-lite

While Sin­ga­pore’s ef­forts at go­ing ‘car-lite’ have been widely re­ported in the pa­pers, the con­cept it­self re­mains a lit­tle bit of an enigma. Does it mean a con­certed move to­wards hav­ing less cars on our roads? Or, does it re­fer to re­duc­ing the use of our per­sonal cars in favour of pub­lic trans­port use? It is, in its very essence, a very tricky is­sue to de­bate be­cause of the way we each live our lives. There may be sim­i­lar­i­ties but they are al­most al­ways uniquely dif­fer­ent as Ben and Jon are.

JT I’m some­one who spends much of my day in an of­fice. And while I own a car, I take the bus, oc­ca­sion­ally the MRT, to and from work. Not only do I find it cheaper and more con­ve­nient, it’s some­times faster too. The car, I must con­cede, is only used on oc­ca­sions where I’d need to travel to mul­ti­ple off­site lo­ca­tions for work, run my er­rands, or crave con­ve­nience over the week­ends. Mind you, I en­joy driv­ing, but it just makes more sense to take the bus, some­times.

BC I guess you rep­re­sent prob­a­bly the ma­jor­ity of folks, whose needs are more or less ad­e­quately met by the pub­lic trans­port sys­tem. I will ad­mit I am an anom­aly, in that for me, un­der most sit­u­a­tions, a car serves me much bet­ter than the bus or train. Nei­ther my home nor my pre­vi­ous work­places were well-served by pub­lic trans­port, and now as a free­lancer I do need to travel fairly ex­ten­sively through­out the day to var­i­ous parts of the is­land for as­sign­ments and meet­ings and such. So in that sense a car is prob­a­bly a boon or even nec­es­sary in order for me to go about my daily busi­ness.

JT Ar­guably, this whole con­cept of a ‘car-lite’ so­ci­ety can be baf­fling. Es­pe­cially when there are these pi­lots projects for elec­tric and au­ton­o­mous cars go­ing on. They still mean cars on the road, and given our lim­ited land area, I fully un­der­stand just why car num­bers have to be reg­u­lated; if sim­ply to avoid hav­ing chaotic traf­fic con­di­tions such as those in neigh­bour­ing Bangkok and Jakarta.

There­fore, my un­der­stand­ing of what it means to be car-lite is this: Own a car where your means al­low you to, for the prices you pay for one is right up there with the more in­dul­gent of lux­u­ries. It means mo­bil­ity, but at a high costs. But with own­er­ship, use it as you will.

Per­son­ally, I will look at ef­fi­ciency, and what works best for me. If it is more con­ve­nient to take the bus to work, I’d opt for that.

But of course, this doesn’t work for every­one, as Ben clearly will ar­gue.

BC The over­all mone­tary cost of pub­lic trans­port is of course in­fin­itely much cheaper than hav­ing your own car, but what about the in­tan­gi­ble

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