LTA Says COE Recategorization Has Met Its Goal? What Nonsense.

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The Land Transport Authority (LTA) proudly announced recently that its move to reclassify certain car models in Category A achieved its goal of “retaining models” for the mass market. LTA also presented a whole bunch of numbers showing how the tweak led to a “significant decrease” in the median Open Market Value (OMV) for Category A cars.

When asked about COE premiums, an LTA spokesperson said that the recategorization was not aimed at lowering COE prices, but to allow Category A to cater to the mass market in a better way.

I may be missing something, but does this make any sense to you at all? Unless your “mass market” is one that can afford COE premiums that cost about $77,000 (which is practically more than 3x the OMV of these cars), I have no idea what they are talking about.

Here’s a breakdown of the recent exercise:

Yes, I get it. COEs are meant to limit the number of cars on the road, not to allow them to proliferate like bunnies. That being said, there has to be a better way to tweak the system. I never thought I’d say this, but perhaps LTA should take a page out of HDB’s playbook (stop laughing!) and consider these 3 changes:

1. Income Cap for Category A

How is Cat A going to cater to the “mass market” (I say this in quotations because the term right now is a joke) if everyone and their rich father can buy a Cat A car?

HDB has enforced income caps across different housing types, with BTO flats and Executive Condominiums having different income ceilings because they are meant to cater to different groups of people.

In the same way, having an income ceiling for purchases of Cat A cars would lower the number of people eligible to buy cars within a category. Hopefully, that would lower the COE premiums to a point that people in this group who need a car can purchase one. I’m not just talking about affordability, but financial prudence as well, and if the two could go together hand-in-hand, that would be fantastic!

2. Separate Quotas for Foreigners

There are caps on the eligibility to work and reside here. There are also are caps on the eligibility to buy public housing. So why aren’t there any caps on buying cars that take up PUBLIC resources and space?

I’m sure there are plenty of foreigners who have settled here and are content with taking public transport or buying one car for their family. But when it gets to a point where their overseas allowance also affords them the ability to buy a car to chauffeur their maids to go buy groceries, that’s just ridiculous!

I’m not saying everyone is like that, but what I am saying is that while cars are owned privately, they are used publicly (and we all know ERP is NOT the solution to that so stop trying to kid us LTA!).

Perhaps a minimum period of stay akin to HDB’s cooling measure last year (to increase the wait time for buying a resale flat upon getting their PR status) that applies to motor vehicles could be effected, combined with a separate quota for foreigners. This has nothing to do with being divisive. It has to do with trying to get in line with LTA’s supposed goal of catering to the mass market.

I’m keen to see if this situation evolves so follow us on Facebook as we keep pace with this issue.

3. Get Your Damn Public Transport Act Together

More feeder services, increased maintenance time, buying more trains, blah blah blah. Why is it that every morning I wake up, the only thing cluttering my Twitter feed is news about another MRT breakdown?

If it were legal, I’d actually set up a bookie system to allow people to bet on which line will break down, give over/under odds on how many train stations are affected and… OK, I’ve clearly given this a bit too much thought.

We understand that train stations take time to build. Fine. I’ve had to endure living next to TWO MRT stations being built. If the mobility provided by the new lines could actually make the noise and redirected roads worth the “wait,” that would be great. Actually, it would all be great… IF THE TRAINS ACTUALLY WORKED!

Yes, I know in places like New York, the trains break down every day. But let’s just bear in mind that those trains in NYC have been running longer than Singapore’s been independent, and that even with breakdowns, they have such an extensive network that it’s not hard to find alternatives.

We’re really not asking for much, given that our taxpayer dollars are going towards public transportation. All we want is for things to run smoothly in a sensible manner. I’m certain there are a bunch of overpaid people spending hours thinking about this, so maybe, just maybe, instead of spending money running stupid outdoor advertisements with nice hipster designs telling people how many more stations there will be or how much faster commuting time will be, just do this instead LTA:

GET OUR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO WORK!

What else do you think could be done to restructure the way COE works (and costs)? Share all your thoughts with us here. Maybe we’ll even compile something and send it to the LTA if we get enough comments!