One of the problems spawned by a growing metropolis, and further spurred by sustained economic growth, is parking. This may sound trivial but when you have more cars on the road, the next most irksome problem after traffic is trying to get a parking space.
When you have to add 15 minutes or more of your commute time to finding a parking space for your car for a few hours, you’d likely end up late for your appointment or stressed out after grappling with all the delaying uncertainties.
Availability of a parking space is not only the issue. If you park your car out on the streets, there’s always the risk of security. Or vandalism. Car-napping may be considered under control nowadays, but petty theft is not so.
How many have been victimized by thieves or vandals who’d settle for your side mirrors or hubcaps just so to earn a few bucks or kicks? The more daring would go for your car stereo or anything valuable that you may have left inside the car after, of course, messing up big time with your door lock.
After space and security concerns is the problem regarding the high cost of parking. A yuppie will realize that a sizeable percentage of his income would be spent on parking fees if there is no company-assigned parking area or parking subsidy (separate from fuel allowance).
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Parking buildings, either stand-alone or adjunct to malls, and those converted fenced parking lots with a kiosk manned by a parking attendant are notorious for assessing killer hourly parking rates.
And despite the high fees, the parking management almost always issues a disclaimer written in fine print on your parking ticket releasing it from culpability in any case that may arise from security breaches or vandalism. Makes one want to blurt out a few obscene words.
Parking, unlike traffic, should be pretty much less challenging and easier to manage by concerned local government units. In fact, it takes very little effort to pass ordinances that require office and condominium buildings as well as malls to secure adequate space for their own induced vehicle traffic flow and needed parking.
For some existing buildings, it may take some time to secure additional space or generate financing to be able to comply with such ordinances, but the job eventually gets done with constant reminders and reasonable sanctions by the local government.
The same goes for excessive parking fees. With the right amount of consultation, a uniform billing system could be enforced that takes into account the location (for example, city versus municipality), and class (building, open space, etc.). The simpler, the better.
Street parking is also something that’s reasonable predictable. Many local government units are already instituting regulations that cover such public space use, including defining time and day limits.
The commercial business district of Makati, although not strictly under a local government traffic management, can be considered at the forefront of setting rules and regulations that govern street parking. And it is, for sure, raking in money from this.
Under the jurisdiction of the Makati Commercial Estate Association, a deputized institution of the Ayala group’s Makati CBD management, there are clearly defined streets that allow parking during set hours. There are visible signs as well as vigilant parking attendants that guide motorists.
Of course, there are also towing vehicles that are ready to remove vehicles that have exceeded their parking time limits or were parked in restricted areas. If you’re shelling out thousands of pesos to get back your towed car, you’re allowed a few expletives, of course, under your breath and never within hearing distance of these “authorities.”
Partnership for modern parking services
The City of Manila is also playing catch-up to putting some rhyme and reason on street parking. It claims to be the only locality of Metro Manila (with 17 cities and towns) that has modernized its street parking management technology and services.
The city’s Manila Parking Management had partnered with Tokagawa Global Corp. to put up parking meters and an electronic handheld point-of-sales system using an induction card, much like prepaid mobile phone cards.
Of course, both gadgets may be operated through cash payment if desired. Those who opt of induction cards, though, enjoy additional perks like road help for car trouble or parking space through the Mapma’s 24/7 hotline.
To be fair, the system was first tested during the term of former Mayor Alfredo Lim in Manila Chinatown encompassing some of its busiest streets. When the incumbent Mayor Joseph Estrada took over, a public-private partnership agreement was forged between Tokagawa and Mapma to cover the whole of Manila City.
All of these initiatives are heartwarming, and should be considered for adoption by other cities and towns in Metro Manila at the soonest possible time.
Meanwhile, it’s timely to call the attention of other local government units to consider imposing uniform motoring privileges for senior citizens. Elderly Makati residents are the envy of the rest of Metro Manila for their exemption from the number coding within Makati City. Can’t this be applied to all senior citizens of Metro Manila?
There ought to be better laws to protect senior citizens when parking in malls or open spaces. And this means having certain discounts also.
These days, Metro Manila residents 60 years old and above are still very much active, and contribute some very meaningful and productive time to the economy, often at “discounted” wages or rates. It would be nice to give back something to them as they continue to strive to keep being productive.
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