Housing Cars

As we build many more new HDB flats for Singaporeans, we are also building more parking lots for their cars.

Both are tough challenges. Housing cars is probably more difficult as the mismatch in supply and demand is in old housing estates where there is often limited land to build new or expand old car parks.

Older HDB flats were built with old car park provision norms.  For example, estates with 4 room flats were planned with 560 car park lots per 1,000 flats. This was adequate in the past, but not anymore. More Singaporeans now own cars, and some own more than one car. The equivalent norm for such precincts is now 710 car park lots per 1,000 flats, a substantial but necessary increase.

Nationwide, we have 900,000 HDB flats and 557,000 car park lots. Table 1 shows car ownership among HDB households:

Table 1: Car Ownership of HDB households 

Car Ownership

% of total HDB households

No car

60%

1 car

35%

2 or more cars

5%

Total

100%

The increase in car ownership is quite a recent phenomenon.  With the new norms, new HDB flats will come with adequate car parks.  The problem is in the older HDB estates.  Of the 1,800 HDB car parks island-wide, about 220 of them face some localised shortages.

We are taking steps to address these local shortages.

First, we are building more car parks wherever we can find land to do so. HDB has added 3,400 lots in the last two years.  HDB will add another 1,600 lots next year. (These 5,000 new lots cost $66 million to build.)

Second, HDB gives priority to residents for their first car. This means that a household’s second or third car may have to be parked further away. HDB is also setting aside more reserved “red-lots” for residents, removing the Night Parking Scheme for non-residents, and implementing Electronic Pricing System (EPS) to increase turnover of short-term parking demand.

Third, we need new solutions in the older HDB estates where there is little space to add new lots. Here, we welcome suggestions and ideas. In fact, many of you have shared with us your ideas.  I remember Mr Tan Kok Tim has emailed us on mechanised parking system before.  Thank you.

Former MP Ang Mong Seng just came back from China where he went to study high-rise mechanised parking system.  He strongly recommended that solution to me.  He said it would be cheaper and it needed less land.  He added that it would be reliable.

In fact, such a solution has been adopted by some private apartments in Singapore. Thomson Medical Centre and the National Heart Centre have also used such a solution.  I believe they find the solution satisfactory.

I have asked HDB to study this solution, evaluating the different technologies available, and working through implementation issues, such as waiting time for car retrieval, breakdowns and public acceptance.

If these issues can be sorted out, HDB should try it out.

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