Parking will no longer be free at selected carparks in 12 popular parks across the island, ruffling the feathers of some park goers.
The National Parks Board (NParks) is rolling out an automated fee system at 18 carparks in 12 parks starting from this month, including Choa Chu Kang Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.
The move, introduced at parks serving a large number of users, is meant to regulate usage and prevent abuse, said NParks director of parks Chia Seng Jiang in a Forum letter published in The Straits Times yesterday.
"In recent years, NParks has been receiving complaints on the constant misuse of parking spaces in the above parks, where parking spaces were taken up for extended periods of time by non-park users," he said.
The new system is already in place at East Coast Park, where users said they are now charged $1 an hour, at all times of the day.
At night, I agree that the carparks are very packed, but in the morning, there's hardly anyone there.
MADAM JESSY LEOW, who visits East Coast Park with her husband at 6am daily
• East Coast Park
• Pasir Ris Park
• West Coast Park
• Changi Beach Park
• Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
• Woodlands Waterfront Park
• Admiralty Park
• Bedok Reservoir Park
• Choa Chu Kang Park
• Dairy Farm Nature Park
• Labrador Nature Reserve
• Springleaf Park
The Straits Times understands that the new charges are standard parking rates.
Some have expressed concern that the new charges could discourage people, especially the elderly and handicapped, from visiting the park regularly.
Housewife Lim Lih Mei, who is in her 40s, told ST: "I can understand why charges would be imposed because land is scarce, but parks are for general public use.
"For those with elderly folk and young children, driving a car is a necessity rather than a luxury. So why should they be penalised?"
Madam Jessy Leow, 70, who visits East Coast Park with her 70-year-old husband at 6am every day, suggested that the authorities could look into giving a grace period during the early morning hours.
"At night, I agree that the carparks are very packed, but in the morning, there's hardly anyone there as most of the shops don't open until around 11am," she said.
Madam Leow, who has arthritis and gout, also added that taking public transport to the park is very inconvenient for elderly folk such as herself.
Others suggested that NParks could have looked into more effective ways to prevent abuse of the parking spaces.
For instance, it could have tried to find out which timings were more prone to misuse.
Mr Jason Fu, 26, a regular West Coast Park visitor, said that the new fees could lead to fewer park visitors. But the charges may help to reduce the number of motorists who park at the parks overnight, he added.
Said the graphic designer, who does not mind having to pay the parking fees: "People will think twice about parking there."
In its Forum letter yesterday, NParks said it appreciated feedback on the charges and will monitor the situation at these carparks.