Privatisation of public car parks and more
Your leader in the Sunday Times Motoring last month makes interesting reading and raised some salient points. Allow me to comment on some of them.
Regarding the privatisation of public car parks, I fear this equates with a licence to print money. Parking charges have a tendency to go up as the wind blows and it is always the motorist who has to pay. The lack of competition gives the car park operators a monopoly.
Car parks should be council operated on a non-profit-making basis thereby providing a service to the community. Councils should be stopped from using the generated income for other purposes. Car park revenue should not be treated as a general income. Competent, trustworthy attendants should be paid a fair wage and car parks should be secure and barrier-controlled.
The privatisation of public roads is another negative approach. If the intention is to reduce traffic flow, then it will probably work; but surely this is not what is wanted. People have to travel in a modern world and by far and away the most efficient and convenient way is by car.
As to residential parking, why should anyone consider the stretch of public road outside their house as their exclusive property? The clue is in the word ‘public’. The abuse and misuse of reserved parking bays causes much rage.
The problem is the volume of cars on our roads and the inability to find enough parking places. Privatisation of anything will not solve these two problems. It might line a few pockets but the problem will remain.
I agree about the sleeping policemen and my heart goes out to the ambulance drivers who have to get sick people to hospital without injuring them further.
The better use of road markings is essential, but will Maltese drivers take notice?
There is not a country in the world that has come to terms with the motor car. And every idea for solving the problem has been negative or has been to satisfy a hidden agenda.
Building new roads is not the answer. The UK has shown that new roads seem to fill up as soon as they are opened but the old roads are still as congested.
A major change in attitude is needed. Not by the motorist but by planners and administrators. Would it not be wonderful to have streets where there were no parked cars.
Imagine how many streets could be converted back to two-way traffic if that had to happen – resulting in shorter and more direct journeys for the motorist.
Take Valletta. What if the area from Triq l-Assedju l-Kbir, all the way down to Triq V. Dimech currently used as football pitches and a car park was developed into a six- or seven-storey car park? Several thousand vehicles could be accommodated.
One floor could be devoted to residents of Valletta and Floriana (I would say at no cost); another floor for reserved parking for people who work in Valletta and Floriana (at a small cost); and the rest of the floors could be used by visitors (at normal costs).
Valletta and much of Floriana would be free of cars. But it would mean people walking and we cannot have that.
So introduce a tram service24/7 feeding all parts of Valletta and Floriana. Electric-powered of course and free of charge – this would encourage people to use it. The cost would be covered by the income from the car park.
Imagine what a difference it would make to Valletta. Delivery vehicles would only enter Valletta during restricted hours as they do in Japan.
The same exercise could also take place in villages. Areas could be identified and turned into multi-storey car parks, thereby relieving surrounding roads of the burden of providing parking.
The roads would be safer, less polluted and more pedestrian-friendly.