2-hour free parking may be extended to more parks

A gantry at the entrance to a carpark at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on July 23, 2015.
A gantry at the entrance to a carpark at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on July 23, 2015. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

The National Parks Board (NParks) will look into extending a new two-hour free parking policy to carparks at various parks.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, in announcing the move in Parliament, said: "This is to benefit early- morning park users, many of whom are seniors."

NParks manages 71 carparks in or near parks across Singapore. Of these, 26 charge parking fees to regulate their use and to ensure availability of carpark spaces for park users.

Three are undergoing redevelopment while 42 are free.

Last September, it revised operating hours for carparks at seven parks from 24 hours to 22 hours, freeing up a slot between 6.30am and 8.30am when motorists are not charged.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee noted that users who park their vehicles in carparks near parks included off-peak car owners, used-car dealers, goods-vehicle owners and residents in the vicinity. Often, they park overnight, thus depriving early-morning park visitors of parking spaces.

The seven are Admiralty, Bedok Reservoir, Changi Beach, Choa Chu Kang, Pasir Ris, Springleaf and Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Mr Lee noted that users who park their vehicles in carparks near parks included off-peak car owners, used-car dealers, goods-vehicle owners and residents in the vicinity.

Often, they park overnight, thus depriving early-morning park visitors of parking spaces.

The charging mechanism is used by NParks to dissuade these users from parking near parks.

He said most parks are "within 400m or a 10-minute walk from residential areas".

Also, they are "well linked by the extensive park connector network and served by public transport".

Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) had asked if the free parking or concessionary rates could be extended to residents who hold a season HDB parking label "within a reasonable vicinity".

No, replied Mr Lee, as people who use the parks come from across the island.

"Hence it would be difficult to justify why those living within the vicinity of a park should be given preferential treatment."

NParks issued 1,178 parking summonses last year, compared with 1,815 in 2014 and 1,124 in 2013.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline '2-hour free parking may be extended'. Print Edition | Subscribe