More parking spaces on the way
– but why don’t people use the car parks we already have?*
It’s motor mayhem out there, and it’s getting worse. Official figures confirm what most drivers on the road can sense – that traffic is relentlessly increasing, and the infrastructure can’t keep up. Seventy thousand new vehicles were registered in 2011 and 88,000 more in 2012; 105,000 new driving licences were issued in 2011 and another 108,000 last year. Even allowing for a fair number of wrecks being towed away and cars abandoned or otherwise taken off the road, that’s a massive increase in vehicles for this, our small but booming country.
Obviously, we should all be car-pooling or making greater use of public transport. OK, hands up: who has taken a Karwa taxi or even a bus recently? Thought not. (Most of you, anyway. Well done, the virtuous few – please keep it up.) Because if you do have access to a car, given the climate and the dirt-cheap petrol and, and, and… it’s not an irrational choice just to join the traffic jams, crossing your fingers that there’ll be somewhere to park at the other end.
Qatar’s public transport system serves a large number of commuters and could undoubtedly be better used, but it’s clearly inadequate as an overall solution to Doha’s traffic woes. The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, however, has been working on a master plan since 2005 to sort things out. “The Ministry is aiming to have Qatar free from parking issues and traffic issues, and assure that the Metro planning will effectively bring dramatic change and build a better Qatar,” says Eyad Al-Soufi of the ministry’s planning department. Work is just beginning on an ambitious national network of railway and metro lines, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in 2020. Qatar’s National Vision 2030 includes, in addition to the much-touted Metro system, plans to widen the A-ring road and pull down old buildings to create more car parks, especially in the old city centre.
Eyad can’t understand, though, why people don’t make full use of the car parks that exist already. For him it’s baffling that “people are willing to pay fines for wrong parking, or even struggle to park as close as possible to their offices, but not to park in a proper parking lot. Instead, we hear complaints that we are not providing sufficient parking space.”
Souq Waqif is a case in point. Right across the road, connected to the souq by an underground tunnel, is a multilevel basement car park that’s often empty. And in West Bay, Eyad points out, most of the new towers have been built with plenty of parking. [According to the ministry’s calculations, commercial and office developments require one parking space for every 65 sq. m of floor area, while residential schemes need either one space per 120 sq. m or one space per flat.] “For the towers with fewer parking spaces, we have created multistorey parking lots,” he adds. “We have also provided shuttle services between office towers and the parking lots.”
*tweet us your answers or ideas as to why people don’t park where they’re supposed to