There won’t be overcrowding in 2030

I have my misgivings for the way the population white paper has been presented. Real information is scattered all over the place, the headline numbers are scary, and the entire affair has been picketed by alarmist soundbites. The PAP needs to get its act together when communicating to the people.

But I believe that overcrowding, which is the single biggest concern that everyone has, is actually not a real problem. There will be more than enough homes and public transport capacity even if our population hits 6.9m. The chart below speaks for itself.


All the information used for this chart can be found in the white paper itself, in the land use plan, and in Lui Tuck Yew’s speech. By 2030, there will be:

  • An increase of residential land from 10k ha to 13k ha (+30%)
  • 700k new homes, up from 1.2m today (+58%)
  • An increase in length of MRT lines from 180km to 360km (+100%)
  • 5 new MRT lines, up from 4 today (+125%)
  • +70% MRT passenger capacity into the CBD area.
  • +25% more trains for NS-EW Line, +60% more for NEL and +70% more for Circle Line
  • 40 total bus hubs, up from 10 today.

(The fact that I had hunt down this information when it is scattered over 3 separate  documents is testament to our government’s inability to paint a coherent picture.)

The raw numbers tell us an important story – that our homes and infrastructure will be growing much faster than population. The over-crowding problems that we see today can be solved even as our population grows.

If the PAP pulls this off, it will truly be a testament to the efficiency of their government.

But raw numbers by themselves do not paint the full picture. It also depends on the implementation details. For example:

  • Building new towns is all well and good, but the new towns must have proper amenities and transportation links, otherwise people will still be unhappy. As the population grows, more people will want to want to buy homes in mature estates, and prices there will rise. To prevent the new towns from becoming unwanted “slums”, these places must have proper modern amenities.
  • Where the new MRT lines are laid will matter more than before, especially if we want public transport to be more popular. Improving connectivity between new homes and transport hubs will matter as well.
  • De-centralising commercial businesses from the CBD will also be important. Even if our trains and buses can bring more people into the CBD, the CBD will still be static in size and thus become over-crowded. Businesses must be incentivised to move towards the outskirts of Singapore.
  • If there are spare homes and infrastructure, will the PAP be tempted to allow the population to grow to let these homes and infrastructure be fully (or over-) utilised, thus recreating the problems that we face today?

In fact, maybe it is time for Singaporeans to wonder if there are too many homes and infrastructure in the pipeline? After all, the cost of all those new and “less-utilised” MRT tunnels, trains and buses must be borne by the people in the form of higher fares or taxes. Even if the cost of excess and unused homes is borne by HDB, that’s taxpayer’s money sitting in bricks that are doing nothing. But I think we all agree that this sounds like a happy problem compared to what we are facing today.

But even if we are able to solve the over-crowding problem, we should still ask ourselves whether there is a need for Singapore’s population to grow so much through immigration. There are valid concerns over the dilution of the Singaporean identity and whether our population should stabilise at its existing rate of 5.3m instead of grow further. As the aim of this post is to simply discuss the over-crowding issue, I will discuss these other issues in another post.


About sgthinker

I'm a 40-year old Singaporean male, and this blog pens down my thoughts and feelings about Singapore's political happenings, government policies and society trends. I hope this blog will provide a moderate voice in the growing online debate about the state of Singapore's society. Some of the posts here won't be solely written by me, since there will be times when other writers are more eloquent at expressing their views, in which case I'll share their insights (along with my comments). The content on this blog is owned by me.If you wish to share or reproduce the content, please attribute it to this blog.
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7 Responses to There won’t be overcrowding in 2030

  1. PG says:

    Nowhere is there talk of sustainability , or about climate change , and the availability of food and water from outside sources , which will change or become scarce across the planet as climate change kicks in .
    Without a base of food and water production ( osmosis will be too energy consuming in the future)
    , countries will become vulnerable to any minor change . Then there is the problem of energy , which is based on fossil fuel in Singapore , and which cannot rely totally on solar energy , and there is no research into alternatives , another vulnerable point .

  2. thinknotleft says:

    Your chart seems to assume that services required by the population increase linearly, ie 1 additional person need 1 additional unit of services. This assumption may not be true.

    In addition, if you notice, the population paper is silent on roads. Wouldn’t 6.9m lead to more crowded roads, and we may not be able to increase our roads capacity by 30%.

    Separately, like yr post on leong sze hian. His posts are too extreme at times.

  3. LBJ says:

    To Vincent.

    If you take time to read what you say, it means that we should go into Anarchy instead of having voting rights. Anyway, since for the pass 50yrs you claim that PAP has brought “peace , prosperity and progress” (though I seriously beg to differ), so why not continue to trust them for the next 000 years, shall we???

    I mean, just to drop you a simple penny for thought:
    ** What makes Malyasia’s EPF earn HIGHER percentage in interest for their people, compared to our CPF all these years??? **

    and this is simply the tip of the iceberg, my friend.

  4. Okenba says:

    Numbers do not tell the whole story. What are we losing when we allocate land for new residential areas, new transport lines? What are we losing when we have more buses on the roads?
    Just because there are more roads does not mean that cars and buses will distribute themselves evenly across roads. Same issue for MRT lines. And with more stops in between what is going to happen to travel times?

    To vincent> While the PAP has certainly brought those things to Singapore, it has not done so well in terms of happiness. In terms of work-life balance. In terms of working hours. In terms of looking after those on the wrong end of the income gap.
    And the opposition parties have not even had a chance to implement their plans, so what are we judging them on? Their written policies alone? If we do that, we should judge the PAP on that as well, and not on their history. And based on the Population White Paper, there are a fair number of experts and academics who think it is half-baked as well.

  5. Pingback: The population must continue to grow…for now |

  6. vincent says:

    I find ATansi comments a bit puzzling . In the past 50 years it was the PAP that brought peace , prosperity and progress to Singapore . Not the WP, SDP , NSP or whatever opposition party with their half baked policies . So what makes you have a deep distrust of the PAP government ?

  7. atans1 says:

    The issue is whether a PAP govt can be trusted. Can it deliver the infrastructure ahead of the 6.9m? Based on what has happened since the 1990s, there are many of us (self included) who doubt its sincerity and competency in making gd its promises. Until PM understands this “trust deficit”, it’s a dialogue of the deaf.

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