If there is any nation wise enough to understand how to propel the public towards favouring anything but private vehicles, it’s Singapore.

Yes, ASEAN’s Singapore is set to upgrade its electronic road pricing system (ERP) by 2020. This upgraded ERP 2.0 will employ satellite-based navigation technology to monitor vehicles and impose distance-based taxes. And it will also provide real-time traffic updates to the drivers and alert them of the road prices. But we all know why ERP was originally introduced – to curb the use of private vehicles.

With that, Singapore will lead the way to a better transportation changes while other ASEAN countries, too, will adopt better system that suits their situation to curb the rapid urbanisation and traffic challenges.

For example, in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 is planning a road congestion pricing system which aims to reduce the flow of private cars travelling. In Philippines, city planners are utilizing real-time data to better manage traffic flows in major cities.

But that’s simply one part of the required steps to curb the traffic scenario.

Increasing digitization, that too by the young and technologically smart population, means that vehicle sharing practices are on the rise. Indeed, to stay a step ahead of the traffic problems, vehicle sharing will contribute significantly. Ride sharing apps like Uber in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philppines, Go-Jek in major cities of Indonesia, and Oway Ride in Myanmar are bearing the burden of decreasing the traffic. Their popularity is rising, and will continue to rise so much that by 2025, they might even overtake the use of private vehicles!

ASEAN is currently looking for a plan for Integrated Urban Transport for 2025. It aims to comprise a strategic planning and execution of these four elements – public transport systems, which will help reduce pollution and congestion; non-motorized transport, to encourage public to use cycle or rental vehicles; demand management, to meet the traffic demand as well as discouraging the use of private vehicles, and traffic management, by improving on the available urban transport infrastructure.

This plan will be executed in three arenas – city, where two-wheelers can be easily used; suburbs, which can easily incorporate multi-occupant vehicle use in its traffic, and intercity, where it will use vehicles like bus, train, and aero planes for mass transit.

This development also creates a profitable arena for electric vehicles. Global EV demand is estimated to grow to 6 million units in 2020 from 0.2 million units in 2014. It is fair to say that the transport plan, increasing environmental consciousness, and rising fuel prices will boost the sales even in ASEAN EV market. While EV manufacturers are being lured in by tax benefits and land ownerships, Malaysia’s National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2014 provided good incentives to attract EV investments. Thailand is also gearing up to be ASEAN’s automotive manufacturing hub.

All these are clear indicative of how major ASEAN cities will keep the transport options in check in the light of possible congestion and population density. The multi modal transport options – application of all kinds of public vehicles like train, bus, bicycle, etc. – will keep them prepared for what’s to come.

Though private vehicles are somewhat of a comfort, ASEAN will introduce better public transport system to ease the traffic. The plans to do so look solid.

Sachi Mulmi is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. She can be reached at sachi.mulmi@frost.com

Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at sapan.agarwal@frost.com | +603 6204 5830