By Jermyn Chow
SINGAPORE cars may be among the world's most expensive, but parking in prime areas here is far less taxing on the wallet.
Drivers here pay far less than their counterparts in cities such as London, Sydney or Tokyo, according to the first major survey of parking charges worldwide.
Property consultant Colliers International, which did the study, ranked Singapore 52 out of 138 cities for how much drivers paid to score a lot in the city centre for a day.
Drivers pay an average of $27.16 for eight hours, far less than the top price of $92.63 in London.
In the Asia-Pacific, it ranked seventh.
Also scoring well is Singapore's monthly season parking rate - at $247.60 a month. This falls far short of charges in many cities including Sydney ($1,054.02) and Hong Kong ($1,009.94).
Analysts spoken to said that prices here remain comparatively cheap - in tandem with a relatively cheaper cost of living.
This despite parking rates increasing by 10 to 20 per cent over the past two years.
Workers in the central business district (CBD) here also enjoy the luxury of more parking spaces: about 165 per 1,000 jobs, compared to space-short Hong Kong, which has only 23.
Carpark operators say they have no immediate plans to raise charges, much to the relief of motorists.
Said marketing executive Alvin Lam, 31, who drives to his workplace in Shenton Way every day: 'I have already paid so much to buy a car and on ERP charges, I cannot imagine having to spend even more on parking.'
The respite could be brief, warned Mr Nicholas Mak, property consultant Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy - a looming carpark crunch in the CBD could drive up parking charges.
Upcoming office buildings and shopping malls - especially those in Marina Bay - have to restrict the number of parking spaces they can have, under tightened regulations.
The Market Street Carpark, which has 704 parking lots in the CBD area, could soon come under the wrecking ball. It may be redeveloped into an office building, cutting the number of spaces available in the city.
Said Mr Mak: 'It will be a matter of time before carpark charges spiral upwards.'
[Articles like this are usually the first warning shot before some Minister or ministry start to make announcements that prices have to be adjusted because compared to our position in the world, our resources - in this case, parking lots - are underpriced and so encourages inefficiency. Expect to pay more for parking in the near future.]