New registrations for off-peak cars have increased over the last 3 years. However, off-peak cars, with its signature red plates, remain a rare sight on the roads even on weekends as many people continue to opt for normal cars over off-peak cars. As of July 2015, there are 33,969 off-peak cars registered, just 5.8% of all private cars on Singapore roads.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) introduced the Off Peak Car (OPC) Scheme and Weekend Car Scheme (WEC) in 1994 to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Both the OPC and WEC are no longer available for registration or conversion. Instead, car owners can register or convert to the Revised Off Peak Car Scheme (ROPC), implemented since 2009.
When Can You Drive Off-Peak Cars?
Off-peak cars cannot be driven on the roads between 7am and 7pm on weekdays (except Public Holidays). These cars can be driven freely outside of restricted hours.
Under the ROPC, car users that register/convert to this scheme enjoy unrestricted use of the car on Saturdays and on the eves of Public Holidays. However, this increased usage period comes with higher road tax.
It is an offence to drive cars under the ROPC during restricted hours, in which the registered owner faces a fine of up to $5000. To drive the car during restricted hours, drivers would need to purchase an electronic day license (e-Day License) for $20.
Owners are given up to 2359 the next day to purchase their license after using their ROPC cars during the restricted hours. Alternatively, e-Day Licenses can be bought 2 weeks in advance.
Cost Advantage Of Off-Peak Cars
The registration of cars under the ROPC is appealing to car owners as they can save on car registration related fees and annual road taxes.
Car Registration Related Fees:
Under the ROPC, car buyers enjoy an up-front rebate of $17 000 off the COE and ARF in exchange for reduced usage. This makes it more affordable for new car buyers especially when the COE drops.
Under the ROPC, there is a cash rebate up to $1100 for every six months the car remains a ROPC until the car reaches 10 years old. (For cars converted from normal to the ROPC)
A flat discount of $500 (ROPC) is given per year from the normal road tax, subjected to the minimum road tax payment of $70 (ROPC) per year.
How much you save with a red car plate:
|Off-Peak Cars (ROPC)|
|Car Registration Fees
(COE rebate for newly registered cars under ROPC)OR
OPC Cash Rebate
|$17 000 fixed rebate
$1100 every 6 months
|Road Tax Discount||$500 annually|
Is It Worth It?
If your car is for convenience, why would you get an off-peak car to restrict your usage? Does it defeat the whole purpose of having a car if you have to take public transport during restricted hours?
The only reasoning would be that the car is not used often and there is no real need for it every day.
This scheme is relatively inflexible. It determines your mode of travel and car usage. Even if you want to drive to somewhere 5 minutes away, you would need to pay $20 for the e-Day License to drive within restricted hours.
An off-peak car would be worth it if you travel to the CBD every day and don’t drive to work. Not driving to work helps you save on the expensive parking fees and ERP costs (not to mention the traffic jams). Off-peak cars are also suitable for working adults that enjoy late nights out.
Getting an off-peak car would probably be more suitable if is not your family’s first and main car. If you and your family only go out during public holidays and weekends, an off-peak car would be a reasonable choice due to the cost advantages.
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