Parking poser in KL

Dharm Navaratnam

Modified 19 Jul 2016, 2:20 am

The announcement by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) that it is raising its parking charges has caught many by surprise. In some ways I understand, and perhaps even agree with, the need to raise parking charges in the Central Business District of Kuala Lumpur. On the surface of it, raising parking fees will mean less cars in the city. This will hence reduce traffic.

However, on closer inspection, you would note that most people who drive into the city on a daily basis actually use season parking or park at open air carparks that are not under the control of DBKL. Those that park at public car parking lots are usually those that go into the city to run errands, for short business meetings or maybe to do a bit of shopping.

Maybe the rationale is to promote the use of public transport into the city for those who go in on an ad hoc basis. While this is a noble idea, has this been thought out clearly and concisely? For example, are there sufficient feeder buses to LRT stations or buses to the city? I think not. Fix the public transportation to make it easy and seamless before raising the parking fees. You are only burdening the public otherwise.

Another point of contention is the decision to raise the parking charges in the mainly residential areas of Sri Hartamas, Bangsar, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Damansara Heights. Firstly, I do not understand how these areas are classified as part of the Central Business District. Further, parking charges in these residential areas used to be 50 sen an hour. Increasing it suddenly to RM2 is a four-fold increase!

Busier commercial areas and those closer to the city, for example Brickfields and Jalan Ipoh, have been classified as outside the city centre. Surely Brickfields is closer to the city than Bangsar is? Segambut that is just slightly north of Sri Hartamas is classified as being part of KL outskirts. Kuchai Entrepreneurs park, which is really far south of the city, is placed in the same zone as Brickfields.

Now to put this in a proper data driven analysis. Let’s take the Petronas Twin Towers or KLCC as being the City Centre of Kuala Lumpur, for after all, it is called the Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Using Google Earth and drawing a 5km radius from KLCC, you will see that Brickfields is indeed closer to KLCC than Bangsar. Segambut is about equidistant radial distance as Sri Hartamas as is Damansara Heights.

That begets the question of why Segambut is classified differently. Setiswangsa, which is within the 5km radius from KLCC, is considered as KL outskirts. Salak South, is also considered part of the outskirts although it is 6km radial distance from KLCC while Bangsar is 5.3km radial distance. How the zones have been designated doesn’t quite make any sense.

One really needs to ask why residential areas are being subjected to unnecessary high parking rates. While the parking lots in these areas are no doubt in mainly commercial areas, these are not huge bustling commercial areas but rather commercial areas that cater to small and medium businesses. They also cater to the residents in terms of restaurants, banking facilities, sundry shops, clinics, and the like.

Are residents supposed to pay up to RM5 each time they visit the doctor, do their groceries or just have lunch with the family? I take RM5 as it takes at least slightly more than an hour to do these things. What if you decided on a long leisurely cup of tea with your loved one? RM8 to park just to enjoy a leisurely cup of tea and a nice long chat taking just over two hours?

Office workers to pay up to RM32 per day for parking?

Are workers at small offices supposed to pay up to RM32 per day to park their cars?

What alternative do people have in getting to places like Damansara Heights and Sri Hartamas when there is hardly any public transport serving these areas? Buses are few and far between, with some buses only coming every hour if you are lucky.

Amazing really how policy decisions are made sometimes.

While parking rates are being raised, there seems to be no enforcement on people who double park or who park indiscriminately along the roadside and cause traffic jams. Surely more money could be made from proper enforcement rather than raising parking rates.

So, to say that this is not a money making exercise kind of goes against what the data says. It even implies that DBKL has redefined where the Central Business District is if Taman Tun Dr Ismail is now considered part of the CBD, let alone the other neighbourhoods mentioned above. Perhaps the definition of KL’s CBD is based on the perception of how affluent a neighbourhood supposedly is rather than based on a geographical location.

As I stated earlier, I have no issue with raising parking in the City Centre but to impose such high rates on residential areas on the city outskirts is nothing but daylight robbery. But then again, every cloud always has a silver lining. Perhaps this is an opportunity for residents to become Uber drivers and shuttle each other around. After all, these residential areas are now considered part of the Central Business District, aren’t they?