Dollar Dilemma – Owning a Car vs Using Public Transport


Remember the last time you boarded an MRT train during peak hours and experienced a mild recreation of what it feels like to enter the event horizon of a black hole? Remember the last time you had to scrape the bottom of your wallet in desperation hoping there’s enough to cover your car’s fuel expenses? Why do my rhetorical questions sound so contradictory? Well, perhaps it has something to do with the complicated dilemma of owning a car vs using public transport in Singapore. Although it’s clearer than crystal which mode of transport is better aligned with your savings when you look at it objectively, the real answer for you is a lot more subjective and completely depends on your lifestyle. There are dozens of variables that can make or break the prospect of owning a car for an individual living in Singapore. Let us say you’re working a fast-paced job such as sales or journalism that involves zipping across the city at a moment’s notice in order to earn your living. In that case, public transport can prove to be a terrible roadblock for you and purchasing a car may be a lot more productive. Unfortunately, Singapore’s rigorous government policies have also made it the world’s most expensive place to purchase a car. The country’s licensing system has been laid out to promote public transport over owning personal vehicles. These rules have been enforced in order to keep a strict check on Singapore’s growing land limitations and road congestions.

TAXIS Thanks to their compact size and tamper-proof tariff system, taxis are a popular mode of transport in Singapore. They are abundantly found in the CBD area and can be easily flagged down 24/7. For further convenience, you can also alternatively book them in advance via telephone or the internet. However, daily travel by taxi is bound to leave a heavy dent on your savings unless you happen to be a millionaire. Rigorous mandates enforced upon the taxi drivers of Singapore ensure that all taxi passengers pay only what the electronic meters read and nothing more.

MRT Singapore happens to be the proud owner of the second oldest Mass Rapid Transit system in South East Asia. The MRT is quite simply the lifeline of Singapore and holds an astounding daily average commuter rate of 2.4 million. It has grown significantly over the past decade to become the cornerstone of Singapore’s public transport system and offering comprehensive connectivity throughout the city. The MRT is the most economic ride of choice for most Singaporeans who work in the ever-bustling Central Business District.

BUSES With over 2 million rides on a daily basis and 300 plus scheduled bus services, Singapore’s bus network is the right hand man of Singapore’s public transport system ranking second only to the MRT system. On an average, a bus ticket will set you back by approximately $3. This means you will only need to pay $1095 even if you travel every day of the year.

What It Really Takes to Own a Car For those wondering just how outrageous the cost of owning a car in Singapore is, let us enlighten you with how much more outrageous the costs of maintaining it turns out to be. In fact, we’ll let a viable example make our point. Let us assume you choose to purchase a standard Toyota Corolla Altis Classic sedan. Congratulations! It’s not the sleek eye candy or turbo-powered beast you dreamed of owning, but it’ll do. You plan to use the car primarily for commuting to work for 22 days every month covering at least 30 kilometers on a daily basis. Let us also assume that you will retain ownership of the car for the 10-year duration of the COE and keep inflation out of the equation for this period. The overall expense of your Toyota combined with additional financial obligations like the GST, COE, OMV, ARF and custom duty will spike its cost up to $106,000. Now that you’ve dealt with this initial investment, you might be heaving a sigh of relief. Well, don’t hold your breath because there are a host of other variables that will come onto the picture as unwelcome roadblocks for your financial welfare. When you factor in variables like insurance, loan repayments, road tax, parking, maintenance, fuel and ERP costs, you will be shocked to know that you will need to shell out nearly $1800 per month for a period of 10 years in order to maintain and utilize your car. Although the numbers may do a good job at playing financial mind games, the truth is that your choice is entirely dependent on your individual lifestyle requirements and financial conditions. Ignoring them will only make you settle for second best and detest your choice later.

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