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11 Sep 2009 | Text by Benjamin G. Kline | Category: Car Ownership Advice

Following LTA’s recent announcement on changes to the Off Peak Car (OPC) scheme, going over to the red side has never seemed more enticing.

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Do you own an OPC? Have you ever griped about the idiosyncrasies of owning an OPC? (eg. Not being able to take your ride out on Saturdays till after 3pm) Well the government or rather the LTA have on this rare occasion heeded our calls for an overhaul of the Off Peak Car scheme. But before we delve into what LTA has revised, let us recap on what the current OPC scheme offers before the changes.

Current OPC scheme

Started in 1994 to replace the Weekend Car scheme, the OPC scheme gave existing car owners a chance to enjoy reduced registration fees and tax rebates. Of course with the tax rebates came the catch, which was reduced usage. Owners were limited to driving only during off peak hours which was from 7pm – 7am on weekdays and 3pm onwards on Saturdays till 7am the following Monday.

An attractive benefit of the OPC scheme was the upfront rebate of the vehicle. Owners are entitled to a rebate of up to $17,000 based on the COE Quota Premium and Additional Registration Fee. Road tax was also reduced to as low as $50.

The OPC scheme was especially attractive to motorists who were on a budget or didn’t need the car often enough to justify a full-time car.

But the scheme wasn’t entirely perfect. Motorists who needed to use the car during peak hours were required to purchase a $20 license and display it prominently on the windscreen.
In an emergency, owners risked being punished with heavy penalties if they drove without the day license.

New OPC scheme and what it means to you

In a bid to entice more motorists onto the red-plated side, LTA recently announced significant changes to the Off Peak Car scheme. It is the single biggest revamp of the scheme since it was started in 1994. Following Transport Minister, Raymond Lim’s announcement in February 2009 that LTA would make the OPC scheme more convenient and attractive to car owners.

From 23rd November 2009, electronic day licenses will replace the paper supplementary licenses for driving during peak periods, allowing more convenience for motorists by having them purchase their licenses online at LTA’s ONE.MOTORING portal, AXS machines or through the mobile-SMS service.

So coupled with the much improved flexibility in purchasing day licenses, motorists have also been given up to 2359hrs the next day to purchase their license after using their OPCs during the restricted hours, allowing the use of their cars in an emergency without getting penalised for it.

On top of that LTA’s enforcement officers will no longer stop OPC owners to check their day licenses. Instead they will take down the OPC’s license plate and verify the purchase of the day license for the specific time that the OPC car was spotted on the road.
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