COE supply shrinks further in Nov-Jan quota; zero growth policy to stay

SINGAPORE – Motorists will have to contend with at least another four years of zero vehicle population growth, and a smaller supply of certificates of entitlement (COEs) in the coming three months.

Keeping its foot on the brake pedal, the Land Transport Authority said on Friday (Oct 15) that given Singapore’s land constraints and competing land-use needs, a zero-growth policy “ensures that our vehicle population growth is tempered especially as the number of vehicles on our roads draws near to one million”.

The cap applies to cars and motorcycles while the commercial vehicle population is allowed to grow by 0.25 per cent a year till end-2025.

The LTA said the allowance for commercial vehicles is linked to “the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, and the reliance of businesses, particular SMEs, on goods vehicles and buses, which are not easily substitutable without significant changes in operations”.

For the next three-month quota starting in November, there will be 1,063 COEs per month for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp, down from 1,605 now.

For cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp, there will be 1,173 COEs a month, a drop from 1,541.

There will be 290 Open COEs per month, a decline from 394. Open COEs can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles, but end up mostly for bigger cars.

For commercial vehicles, the monthly COE supply will be 180, down from 230 now. And motorcyclists – who have been weighed down by record COE prices in recent months – will have 822 COEs per month, down from 889.

Zero growth first kicked in in 2018, and was to have run till this year. But last year, the LTA extended it by a year because of the uncertainties the pandemic brought.

The authority said the extension of zero growth is not expected to significantly affect the supply of COEs, as the COE quota is determined largely by the number of vehicle deregistrations. The cap will be next reviewed in 2024.

In 2011, former Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said zero growth for the car population would dampen the aspirations of Singaporeans.

“You could theoretically bring it down to zero or even below zero,” he said of the annual growth rate, which Singapore has calibrated since it introduced the COE system in 1990. “But I think it will bump up against the aspirations of some who want to own a car.”

He added that he recognised that there will still be those for whom a car is a necessity, such as to ferry their elderly parents around.

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