Parking in Dublin: a grumble (or two)

5 November, 2009

I was in Barrow Street recently, and I had occasion to buy a “pay and display” ticket to allow me to park.  I noticed that parking charges applied on Monday through Saturday, not just Monday through Friday.  Why is this? 

Surely the main point of charges for parking is (or should be) to provide a mechanism for rationing, in an economically sensible way, a scarce resource?  The fact that charges apply on Saturday, when there is no pressure on parking in a place like Barrow Street, exposes perhaps the real reason for the charges: to raise revenue. 

This is an example of a public authority being dishonest with its constituents.  Slipping an extra and unnecessary day onto the schedule of days for which we must pay to park our cars may seem like a small matter, but it’s an inconvenience and an inefficiency.  Add up all the minutes we thousands of drivers potentially spend getting change, getting a ticket, returning to the car, racing back to the car before the clamper arrives, and so on, and you are looking at a big wastage of time being foisted on Joe Public.  (Of course the time wastage can be reduced if one uses the excellent Parking Tag system, but that’s beside the point.)

While I am on the topic, why are Bank Holiday Mondays treated as ordinary Mondays for parking restriction and charging purposes?   Surely they should be treated like Sundays?  On a recent Bank Holiday Monday, I saw a car clamped on a stretch of road that was otherwise completely devoid of parked cars.  There was almost zero demand for parking on this semi-suburban road on the day in question, as few people were at or going to work.  But the clampers were about their dirty tricks, preying on trusting fools who make the mistake of assuming there is some logic to our parking regulations.

And how many innocent tourists get a nasty surprise when they wake up in their Dublin hotel to find that, at exactly 8.00 am, their hired car has become the victim of clampers?  I am reliably informed that the enforcers have a habit of lying in wait at well-known tourist hotels in the city centre (off Harcourt Street being a favourite spot) so that they can effordlessly add to their daily tally, and presumably their daily commission.  Ireland of the Welcomes, where are you?!

By the way, I wonder is it true that clampers pay a small fee to young lads who roam the streets on bicycles identifying cars whose parking time has elapsed or is about to elapse, so that clamping can be carried out even more ruthlessly?  If only to show that free enterprise is not dead among our youth, I would like to think that it’s true.  I can picture budding young Bill-Cullen-types getting their start in business in this way, as a clamper’s nark.

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