Singapore is an island-city smaller than New York City but is still home to 5.6 million people. As such, concern about traffic congestion has necessitated measures to restrict car ownership. An example is the Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC) Scheme offering car owners cost-saving options on condition of reduced car usage.
The Scheme follows similar attempts – namely the OPC and WEC schemes – by the Singapore government to discourage driving during peak times. The ROPC Scheme applies to cars registered or converted onto the Scheme on or after 25th January 2010.
Driving restrictions apply to week days (except public holidays) between 7am and 7pm; motorists on the Scheme who wish to use their cars during these hours must purchase an electronic e-Day Licence. Frequent drivers in Singapore, such as businessman Stefan Musuhr, are subject to heavy taxes but also enjoy relatively empty roads compared to other Asian cities.
There are various benefits to the ROPC Scheme, depending on whether a driver is registering a new car, an existing vehicle or one that was previously registered on the OPC. Significant savings can be enjoyed by Singapore drivers, particularly considering the S$25,000 cost of a mandatory car-ownership permit. A car owner registering a new vehicle can benefit from a rebate of up to S$17,000 offset against the permit cost as well as an annual discount of S$500 off the annual road tax. Discounts for existing car owners and those converting from the OPC Scheme are significantly less but still worthwhile; the annual S$500 road tax discount still applies alongside other conditional benefits.
ROPCs, OPCs and WECs can be driven without limit during restricted hours, although different restrictions apply to the different schemes. Essentially, the ROPC only restricts driving during week day hours between 7am and 7pm. OPC and WEC Schemes were more restrictive and also applied to Saturday driving between 7am and 3pm as well as certain annual events and religious festivals. During restricted hours, an e-Day Licence must be purchased or the driver risks facing a fine of up to S$5,000. An e-Day Licence must be purchased up to 2 weeks before driving or within 24 hours afterwards. The Licence costs S$20 and a usage date must be indicated at time of purchase.
Singapore’s inhabitants must complete several steps to qualify for car ownership; measures to reduce vehicle usage ensure that many people are priced out of owning their own car. The ROPC Scheme aims to deter people from driving and encourage the use of more environmentally friendly public transport.