Saturday, January 31, 2009

Par Carking* - Spreading the Burden

* par = equal, carking = worrying

Car parking space is becoming increasingly limited, not only in the centre of Dublin city, but also in the suburbs.

One solution would be to cut down on the use of cars and make greater use of public transport. For this two things, at least, would be required: (i) a public transport system with wide coverage and which ran on time, and (ii) large parking areas for "park and ride" (or "kiss and ride" as it is amusingly called in the US of A).

There is a DART station in Raheny which does not have any such parking area provided by the transport authorities. DART commuters therefore took advantage of existing car parks in the local supermarket complex, the RC church and the local public library.

The shops in the supermarket complex got pissed off that this space was consequently not available to customers. So it introduced a 3 hour maximum parking time with clamping. This didn't work because it wasn't enforced, so, instead of enforcing it a one hour maximum was introduced. The complex houses a supermarket, restaurant, bank, post office, chemist, hairdresser, newsagent, video rental store, health clinic and lawyer. You could be queueing for the better part of an hour in some of these.

Anyway parking pressure shifted to the church where the substantial car park was then always full. Pressure also came on the library, which had a limited number of spaces for library users.

The library was the first of these two to take action. They disposed of office worker DART users by closing the car park outside of library hours (8pm to 10am Monday to Friday). The library authorities feel they can't go any further than this blanket action as a more selective system would cost money and staff resources. While this action dealt a death blow to daily DARTers the spaces are still abused by those going to the gym and those banking across the road. I recently had to avail of nearby pay and display parking to use the library. This has roused my usually supressed vigilante instincts and some day I'll stake out the library car park for a day and see what happens. Hope I don't meet too many of my neighbours abusing the system.

The church, after many years deliberations, has now finally moved on the matter. This park has recently gone pay and display and a notice circulated to parishioners has assured them that they will not be charged while attending church services. I wondered myself for a good while whether it would be possible to implement such a system and more or less gave up. But the church has clearly solved this problem to its own satisfaction. Perhaps it has organised the inspectors/clampers to discreetly stay away during church services. No doubt the removal of charges on Saturday evening after 5pm and the
whole of Sunday will cater for the once a week mass-goers.

The point is still, however, how the DARTers and bussers are to be catered for. If the authorities want the public to park and ride they will have to provide appropriate car parking space and, certainly as far as the busses are concerned, get them running on time. I am still looking at alternating long gaps and convoys on the bus routes.

Are these people really serious? Cutting bus services because the country is broke is only going to make it more broke and cause a lot of misery to the very people who can't afford private transport.

We've had enough of the cosy relationship with the developers and builders. The authorities now need to stand up to the private car users and provide a proper public transport service.

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