It seems minor, but the problem with Sydney’s parking is one we all face. It doesn’t change, because they don’t feel like they have to. Time’s up, I say.
Parking fines are our suburban meta-antagonist. They’re an arbitrary and unnecessary evil, purely in place just to prod us. It’s a selective torture. Revenue must be made, and it must be made this way. Everything else is the sea. Here’s an idea. Local councils could make just as much, if not more, money by building paid, all-day parking for areas that currently have none. Right?
But until they uproot their paved paradise, let me tell you about my coworker, who we’ll call “Jay”.
Jay and I work in Redfern, a place where a great many people work, and wherein there is very little to no all-day street parking. Even the parking lot down the road from us is a maximum of two hours.
Every two hours, a great exodus is witnessed, as people from our office leave work in droves to check their cars haven’t been chalked. Some do try and find new parking spots, but really they just end up driving around the block and returning. This migratory flight of the laboured and hopeless repeats every lunchtime, with the circling albatrosses cawing disappointment when we return to the nest, knowing that we’ll have to repeat the journey another four times before we can go home.
One day, after one such tour, Jay returned to his car – within the two hour limit – to find he had been ticketed. Not chalked, but ticketed. The amount was obscene, and he had 21 days to pay it.
He submitted a challenge to the ticket, informing the police that he had, in fact, gone in search of a new spot and was, in fact, within the time limit allowed for the spot he was currently occupying.
He didn’t have to pay the fine while they were processing his complaint.
20 days later, at half past midnight on the morning of the 21st day, he received an email, “You cannot challenge this ticket and must still pay within the 21 days.” He had to pay that day, whether or not he had the money. He paid it. What else could he do?
In what kind of Kafka-esque system is it acceptable to email someone at past midnight on the day they are supposed to pay a fine? The city likes its cash grab and refuses to do anything about it.
The problem here is twofold. Firstly, the parking situation is non-existent. Catching public transport isn’t an option for everyone, and so it doesn’t matter how close we are to Redfern station. Jay usually bikes to work, but some days he has to drive for whatever reason, and thus has to have a place to actually park his car. It’s not a unique problem, we all face it.
The second problem is that the system by which you challenge the tickets is inherently broken. In what kind of Kafka-esque system is it acceptable to email someone at past midnight on the day they are supposed to pay a fine?
What if Jay hadn’t been able to check his emails until the following day and was, thus, late on his fine? Shouldn’t the system require a response within the 21 days, or reset the 21 days from the response given?
The city likes its cash grab and refuses to do anything about it. Why don’t people who work full time in the area have parking passes to park longer than two hours in the lot or on the street? Why isn’t the lot bigger to start with?
This seems like a minor, fragmental issue, but it’s a microcosm of greater Sydney; there is not enough parking and the parking that is there is both limited by time and prohibitively expensive. There has to be a better way of dealing with this, and of making money for the city, than just by ticketing people with hefty fines for minor infractions.