Sugar land. Cattle pasture. A stage for cultural events, especially Carnival. Sports grounds. The world's largest traffic roundabout. Mayor of Port-of-Spain Louis Lee Sing wants to add "parking lot" to that list as he plans to use a portion of the Queen's Park Savannah to ease the traffic congestion in the city.
In a telephone interview, Lee Sing confirmed the Carlos John Boulevard, the paved area within the Savannah, will be used to facilitate a park-and-ride system for people going into the city. He admitted a formal tally has not been decided but anticipated the Savannah car park would house 200 vehicles at a time. Shuttles would transport users to and from the heart of the city, he added.
Lee Sing said the service would cater not only to those looking to visit offices but also shoppers. The details, he said, were being worked out by the Ministry of Works, which was partnering with the City of Port-of-Spain on a massive drive to improve vehicle flow on the streets.
Lee Sing said he had seen preliminary drafts of the shuttle routes from the car park and they would stop at every other block, so commuters could make their way on foot east or west. A ticket was likely to cost between $5 and $10 and that would include parking as well as a return ride, he added.
Lee Sing was unable to confirm whether the cost to park was per hour or total period of stay. He said July 11 was the start date and there would be "minimal changes" to the Savannah. He said the Hasely Crawford Stadium would be the other site for the park-and-ride plan.
When asked about the reaction of conservation groups to the plans for the Savannah, Lee Sing said it was time to "move from the ole talk to action." Contacted for comment, a senior official of Citizens for Conversation said she was unaware of the park-and-ride plan but had full confidence Lee Sing would share all relevant information with the group in a timely manner, since that was a routine to which he had adhered since he was appointed.