Tuesday 16 September 2014

HDB building high-rise mechanised carparks in trial

By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 15 Sep 2014

RESIDENTS of Bukit Panjang, Changi and Yishun will get some relief from parking woes next year.

The Housing Board has started building high-rise mechanised carparks as high as 15 storeys in these estates, as part of a trial to see if a mechanised parking system (MPS) suits HDB estates.

"The MPS is not new in Singapore: several private condos and hotels have it. But it will be new in an HDB town," wrote National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in his blog yesterday.

He was in Bukit Panjang yesterday to launch the construction of a 15-storey mechanised carpark in Bangkit Road.

Costing about $18 million to build, the mechanised carparks at these estates will add 219 parking spaces, up from 717 currently. The cost excludes maintenance.

These mature estates were picked because they lack parking spaces as well as space for new multi-storey carparks.

To park using the mechanised system, a motorist drives his car into a car lift and parks in it.

He then keys in a PIN number and the system will automatically find a parking spot for the car. The driver keys in the same PIN number to retrieve his car.

Carpark charges will remain unchanged during the trial, said the HDB. Residents currently pay $65 a month to park their cars at unsheltered HDB carparks and $90 per month at sheltered ones. Visitors pay $1 an hour.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, the MP for Bukit Panjang, said the system will relieve the shortage of parking spaces during weekends. "The additional 60 (parking spaces) will provide more (parking) facilities for residents and visitors," said Dr Teo, who is also mayor of the North West District.

Office administrator Catherine Ng, 48, said the system will save drivers from having to hunt for parking spaces. "It will also help drivers like me who cannot park properly," she said with a laugh.

Shopkeepers were also happy at the prospect of more parking spaces. "It may bring more shoppers," said owner Lau Chye Tong of Choan Huat Trading, a shop supplying prayer items.

But a few residents were hesitant about using the new system.

"What if the waiting time is too long or if the car is damaged?" asked 37-year-old Ram Bijay. A 38-year-old salesman, who gave his name only as Mr Tan, said he will use it only if there are no regular parking spots available.

Mr Henry Tng, business development manager of Japanese construction and engineering firm Sato Kogyo, which is building the Bukit Panjang MPS, said his company has been building such parking systems in Japan for more than 20 years. "It is reliable. We are not only building it but also maintaining it."

The HDB said the systems will have hotlines manned around the clock and back-up generators in case of power failures.

It added: "If cars are damaged by the system due to mechanical failure, there will be insurance coverage by the contractor as the system provider."

Mechanised parking system used only as last resort

WE REFER to the letters ("New carparks: Cater for disabled drivers" by Mr Edmund Wan Fook Wing, last Friday; and "Review need for costly HDB carparks" by Mr Chua Tiong Guan, Tuesday).

To overcome the shortage of parking spaces in some existing carparks, HDB adopts a two-pronged approach to meeting residents' parking needs - managing parking demand and increasing the supply of parking spaces where possible.

In areas where it is not possible to build more multi-storey or surface carparks because of the lack of land space available, the mechanised parking system is a potential solution to increase parking capacity.

While the system will cost more to build and maintain because of the technology involved, it is more land-efficient and can be deployed in space-constrained sites where it is not possible to build a conventional carpark. For this reason, such systems are commonly adopted in space-constrained countries such as Japan and South Korea.

The pilot implementation of the mechanised parking system at the three sites in Changi, Yishun and Bukit Panjang will allow us to test-bed the suitability of such technology in Singapore's context and gauge users' acceptance of the system, before deciding whether wider-scale implementation should be considered.

The same parking charges will be retained for these three carparks in the pilot projects.

HDB is mindful of the need to be financially prudent.

Hence, the mechanised parking system will be implemented only as a last resort, when there are no other feasible parking solutions to resolve acute localised shortage of carpark spaces.

On Mr Wan's concern about the accessibility of the system for the disabled, parking spaces designated for the disabled have been provided in HDB carparks from the onset.

The additional parking spaces provided by the mechanised parking system are to address localised parking demand and not to replace conventional multi-storey or surface carpark spaces in the vicinity.

Motorists with special needs can continue to park at the designated spaces for the disabled within these carparks, which are more conveniently accessible.

Eng Soh Seng
Director (Car Parks)
Housing & Development Board
ST Forum, 25 Sep 2014

Review need for costly HDB carparks

THE article ("HDB building high-rise mechanised carparks in trial"; Sept 15) reported that the Housing Board has started building high-rise mechanised carparks in Bukit Panjang, Changi and Yishun, which will add 219 parking spaces at a cost of $18 million.

Doesn't this mean each parking space comes at a cost of about $82,000? And this is only the building cost and excludes maintenance.

Given that taxpayers' money is being used, does the benefit of having 219 more parking spaces justify this huge investment?

Also, doesn't such a project encourage car ownership?

Vehicle owners should have to live with the "inconvenience" of having to walk to a distant carpark, or leaving their cars at home and using public transport, or better still, giving up their cars altogether.

The money would have been better spent subsidising public transport fares for the elderly and the needy, rather than helping car owners have easier access to parking spaces.

Although I am a car owner living near Bukit Panjang, I am against the trial and urge the Government to reconsider it.

Chua Tiong Guan
ST Forum, 23 Sep 2014

New carparks: Cater for disabled drivers

IN DESIGNING high-rise mechanised carparks, the authorities should ensure there is sufficient space in the car lift for wheelchair users to alight ("HDB building high-rise mechanised carparks in trial"; Monday).

This would certainly minimise the problems faced by drivers with disabilities.

Edmund Wan Fook Wing
ST Forum, 19 Sep 2014

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