Time to cap the number of cars?

Ireland has reached and passed ‘peak cars’ according to a report in the Irish Times. Is it time to say we have enough cars on the road and put a cap?

This sounds like a crazy thing to suggest, at least in the Western World. But in Singapore, there has been a cap on the number of cars for around 20 years, the Vehicle Quota System. Under this system, you have to bid for a ‘certificate of entitlement‘ before you can buy a car. The quota is set in accordance with the amount of road space that is actually available. Then, there are regularly auctions. If a lot of people want to buy cars that month, the price is high (potentially tens of thousands of dollars). If no one is buying, then the price is low (could be as low as S$2).

This would be far more sensible than the system of vehicle taxation which we have at the moment in Ireland. It would address the very real problem of congestion. It would also provide a stimulus to the motor industry during quiet years, because car purchasing would be more attractive when demand for cars was low and so prices of Certificates of Entitlement were also low.

The end result of this is that it makes major congestion much less likely and allows traffic to be managed. Demand for road space (which is the ultimate cause of congestion and traffic delays) is under control at source.

Before we do this, we would need to have a far higher quality of public transport to offer, especially in the cities. Also in the Irish Times, read about Ventekedis and Leahy’s proposal to vastly improve public transport in Dublin.