x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Parking trial a success ... until it's time to go home

Shoppers say the idea to charge is a good one if it deters Metro users but fear there could be long queues to get in and out at weekends.

John Alagao, a parking attendant at the Mall of the Emirates, explains the new parking system.
John Alagao, a parking attendant at the Mall of the Emirates, explains the new parking system.

DUBAI // Trial runs for paid parking caused longer than normal jams leaving two city malls yesterday, and shoppers anticipate even longer delays once the system is up and running. The trials at Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre went without any hitches until motorists started leaving, when queues stretched back well inside the car parks.

"There need to be a lot more exits in this mall if this system is to work, otherwise there is bound to be long queues here all day," said Abu Basti, a shopper at Deira City Centre. Paid parking is being introduced to coincide with the opening of the Dubai Metro on September 9, to avoid the malls being used as unofficial park-and-ride facilities. Until then, motorists will not be charged for parking but will still have to validate their tickets.

Another driver at Deira City Centre, Samir Vajrani, said the new system might discourage people from going to the mall at the weekend. "It is impossible to get parking in here on weekends. Now, it will be impossible to get in and out of here," he said. "The weekends will be really crowded and they will need people in the parking area to direct the traffic." Drivers at Deira City Centre agreed that the ticketing process was easy to understand. Staff were on hand to explain how the system worked.

"Luckily it is only a Sunday," said Donald Sosnonski at Mall of the Emirates. "I can't see it being a problem today but when it gets busy, there will be a lot of people queuing up to enter the mall, then to pay and leave the place. "Weekends will be busy. I hope it works well with the traffic lights on the Al Barsha side of the mall because that can be jammed at times." Susan Daniels said she did not mind the new system - the problem was remembering to validate the ticket. "I didn't drive up to the gates but I did walk the whole way to the car and then had to turn back to get it validated," she said.

The malls, both run by the Majid al Futtaim Group, will introduce charges on September 10, a day after the opening of the Metro. The first three hours will be free on weekdays, and for the first four hours at the weekend. It will be Dh20 (US$5) per hour after the free period and six to seven hours' parking will cost Dh100. More than seven hours will cost Dh150 and for cars left overnight there will be a charge of Dh350.

A lost ticket will cost D150 but cinema-goers and visitors to Ski Dubai will get an extra hour on their ticket if they present it at the cash desk. Saghar Foroughi, from Iran, at first complained that paid parking was another expense for residents before she heard the plan was to deter Metro users from leaving their cars in the malls all day. "That makes perfect sense. To be honest, I don't know much about it, but if it's free for the first three hours, I don't mind," she said.

Gary Thomas, from Scotland, said three hours of free parking is ample time to do his business in the mall. "It is a matter of getting in and out as quickly as possible," he said. "I think it is a great idea and should keep the car park free." eharnan@thenational.ae pmenon@thenational.ae