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Public servants snub paid parking in the Parliamentary Triangle

Public servants beware: there is no grace period with the introduction of pay parking in the parliamentary triangle.

Parking inspectors - whose faces we're not allowed to show because of the National Capital Authority's fears for their safety - are already patrolling the car parks, hunting for those trying to overstay their welcome or avoid paying at all.

The first day of paid parking caused problems for public servant Emilie Rohan, who was forced to call the help line when ...
The first day of paid parking caused problems for public servant Emilie Rohan, who was forced to call the help line when the parking machine ate her coins. Photo: Graham Tidy

While they've been given a mandate from the National Capital Authority to hold drivers accountable, it seems it's slim pickings so far.

It may be spring school holidays and a fortnight with two public holidays, but you could have parked a semitrailer truck in some of the vacant spaces in the usually busy car park between the John Gorton building and the AFP headquarters.

Could it be that the daily routine of fighting for a treasured parking spot in the parliamentary triangle has been consigned to history?

Several public servants arriving for work said they'd never seen the car park so quiet, not even during the Easter school holiday period.

For those who did cough up their coins, the frustration of paying for parking was slightly dampened by being able to snag a rare spot close to the door. 

Louise Armstrong of Higgins, who has been driving to work for many years, said the carpark was the quietest she had seen and that it was usually completely full by 8.30-9am.

Two parking officers, who do not wish to be identified, conduct their rounds in parliamentary triangle car parks on the ...
Two parking officers, who do not wish to be identified, conduct their rounds in parliamentary triangle car parks on the first day of enforced paid parking. Photo: Matt Bedford

"I'm probably going to take a bus as a result of this, it's just about knowing which routes to take," she said. 

"I guess the advantage in the meantime is getting a park close to the door!"

But for Emilie Rohan, her first experience with the paid parking machine wasn't exactly streamlined. 

After one machine swallowed her money with no ticket, Ms Rohan spent close to 10 minutes on the phone searching for answers.

A National Capital Authority spokeswoman said the issue was not due to machine malfunction and was addressed quickly by staff. 

"We've had an issue with one machine where it looks like someone has placed something in the coin spot which has caused problems but that was resolved pretty quickly," she said.  

Ms Rohan said it was unfair public servants near the Edmund Barton building were forced to pay similar rates to those in Civic where there was access to shopping centres and other facilities. 

Fellow public servants Steve Maloney and Donna Tipping, who were strolling the carpark with coffee after paying for their spots, said they rated their outrage as "a four out of 10" but were concerned about the financial impacts. 

"We were talking about it before and it's close to $2000 a year if you dont take sickies," said Mr Maloney of Isabella Plains. 

But while there were plenty of empty car parks, the bike stands outside the depatment buildings were full. 

Liz Boylan, who works in the Department of Environment and lives in Ainslie, said she had been riding her bike to work for some time and the introduction paid parking meant she would continue to do so. 

"I was thinking about maybe buying a car and then I thought, nah," she said.

While the NCA spokeswoman was not able to detail how many infringements were issued on Wednesday, she said the policy had achieved the goal of freeing up car parks in the parliamentary zone. 

"There were definitely less cars in the car parks than normal this morning, but this is the first day and I don't think it will remain at this level," she said. 

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