This article is from the October 13 issue of The Age Digital Edition.
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Motorists who park in railway station car parks but do not catch a train may face fines next year.
Authorised transport officers will begin patrolling station car parks in the new year and check myki cards to ensure the drivers are genuine commuters.
The punitive approach to tackling Melbourne’s chronic shortage of station car parking will be trialled at six stations, before potentially being introduced more widely. Offenders will be fined $89.
Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said free parking spaces for commuters were being unfairly poached.
‘‘ Car parks are for public transport users who directly contribute to the cost of running, maintaining and upgrading Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses by paying a fare,’’ he said. ‘‘ These free commuter car park spaces should not be used by retailers, local employees, tradies or shoppers who are not catching public transport.’’
The six stations to be patrolled from January 1 are Box Hill, Burwood , Camberwell, Heidelberg, Highett and Murrumbeena, all stations where commuters have had to put up with non-commuters taking spaces, the government says. The freshly gazetted legislation follows feedback from local MPs who have received complaints from constituents, it says.
Random checks will be conducted at car park exits. If drivers or passengers in the vehicle do not have a valid ticket showing they used public transport, they risk the $89 fine . If successful, other free commuter car parks will be added in 2015.
The restrictions will apply on weekdays between 6am and 7pm. Drivers can park in a station car park for up to one hour provided they remain inside the car park area, so it is possible to drop off or pick up a passenger.
Tony Morton, the president of the Public Transport Users Association , predicted the new regulation would get a mixed reaction and do little to attack the root cause of the parking shortage: inadequate public transport in the suburbs. ‘‘ You simply cannot build more car parks and hope that you can satisfy the demand,’’ Dr Morton said.
The RACV’s Thanuja Gunatillake said the organisation would support the trial, provided it was well explained to the public.
‘‘ We strongly support greater investment in better access, including parking, bus services, walking and cycling,’’ she said.