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Parking woes cripple city users

... Crammed to capacity
Published: 
Monday, June 9, 2014
Some of the buildings which comprise the Government Campus Plaza.

The Government Campus Plaza—which will accommodate five state agencies: Board of Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Legal Affairs, and the Office of the Attorney General—is expected to open in 2015, but the plaza’s parkade is already being filled to capacity.

 

 

Last week the Udecott-operated parking facility—the largest of its kind in T&T, having 12 floors and 800 parking spots—was forced to close its doors to daily-paying customers because of a lack of space. On Friday, daily parking resumed, although only temporarily, according to an employee at the facility.

 

Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz and Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie say in the short term, the park-and-ride concept would be reintroduced to help address the parking crisis, but a more holistic strategy was being worked out for the longer term. In a telephone interview on Friday, Tewarie said a Cabinet-appointed committee chaired by Richard Young, chairman of the Economic Development Board, was looking at the development of Port-of-Spain and parking was on the agenda.

 

“The immediate thing they’re going to address is parking in the city to allow for Christmas shopping and other matters related to the park and ride.” Saying parking and traffic management issues could not be solved overnight, he added, “A permanent solution requires thinking things through, facilitating investment, and taking into account the logistics having to do with the movement of people and traffic. It is inevitable that for a longer term solution many ministries have to be involved.”

 

Cadiz said he planned to meet with the Maxi Taxi Association and the Public Transport Service Corporation on resuming the park- and-ride service and starting a round-town transport system. “At the moment maxis are not allowed in the city and buses only along certain routes. This creates a problem because it’s difficult to use public transport when the service is too far to use. So we’re looking at how maxis and buses can be used to provide a round-town service.” 

 

 

He said the Maxi Taxi Association made the proposal years ago but it was never taken up. “A major solution to the parking problem is to be able to provide public transport so that wherever you want to go in the city, you will not be far from transport.” Former mayor of Port-of-Spain, Louis Lee-Sing, said the park and ride system should be made permanent. Saying the parking problem was not insurmountable.

 

 

“To the west, use the (National) stadium; to the north, Queen’s Park Savannah; and to the east, there are properties owned by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) that can be used once measures are put in place to secure them. This would greatly relieve the stresses that we face.” However, he disagreed with the idea of a round-town service. “I’m not advancing that at all. Port-of-Spain is not a big city, so people could walk, and we’ll be helping the health bill.”

 

 

No more parkades

Although there were investment incentives to build more parking facilities in the city, Cadiz said this was not the solution. “The more car parks you build, more cars will come into the city, leading to more congestion and this is what we want to avoid.” Lee Sing agreed, saying there was enough parking real estate available. “If something is not working, we always think we need to build.”

 

“There is no need for additional parking, but there is a need for an increased use of available resources—Queen’s Park Savannah and the stadium. The stadium, which has a capacity for 1,300 to 1,400 cars, is empty throughout out the day.” “What we need is a more creative and innovative approach in what we do.”

 

 

Looking ahead—making parking in POS easy

If the Port-of-Spain Corporation has its way, drivers in Port-of-Spain may soon have to “top up” parking minutes. Deputy Mayor of Port-of-Spain, Keron Valentine, said the corporation’s initiative called “Easy Park” was a result of years of deliberation and the final proposal was passed on to the Ministry of Local Government. However, when contacted, Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray said she had received no correspondence from the Port-of-Spain Corporation about the initiative.

 

Former mayor Louis Lee-Sing who broached the idea during his tenure described the initiative, which, he added, was used in major cities throughout the world. “Drivers will have a little electronic unit whereby they can buy parking minutes and parking will be allowed on one side of the road. The driver turns on the unit when he/she is leaving the vehicle and displays it. Parking wardens will check the metre and if the driver has minutes, the car will be left alone, but if there are no minutes, the car will be clamped and taken away.”

 

Saying only paid parking should be allowed in the city, he added, “People park and go away for the whole day. But if they pay a price, they will be more discerning on how they park.” He said different parking arrangements had to be made for short-term visitors and people who work in Port-of-Spain. “Paid-parking in the city should only be for short-term motorist parking, these are people who come to the city to transact business and just need to park and go.

 

Public servants park and go away and this doesn’t help. They can park in the savannah and ride to the place of work.” Lee Sing added for the idea to work optimally, the entire central business district (downtown Charlotte, Henry, Frederick, Abercromby Streets) needed to be pedestrianised.

 

 

He said the Maxi Taxi Association made the proposal years ago but it was never taken up. “A major solution to the parking problem is to be able to provide public transport so that wherever you want to go in the city, you will not be far from transport.” Former mayor of Port-of-Spain, Louis Lee-Sing, said the park and ride system should be made permanent. Saying the parking problem was not insurmountable.

 

“To the west, use the (National) stadium; to the north, Queen’s Park Savannah; and to the east, there are properties owned by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) that can be used once measures are put in place to secure them. This would greatly relieve the stresses that we face.” However, he disagreed with the idea of a round-town service. “I’m not advancing that at all. Port-of-Spain is not a big city, so people could walk, and we’ll be helping the health bill.”