This morning saw a number of students taking to social media to complain and praise the Kunsill Studenti Universitarji after a seemingly unexpected change in the parking situation was discovered by thousands first thing this morning. Another student media organisation’s post on social media went semi-viral with a barrage of criticism and online harassment including “Injoranti u kretin. Hela ta ossignu,” among others.
Insite spoke to KSU Vice President Steve Zammit Lupi about the new framework which was created based on a survey which took place in July, and this morning’s backlash:
Where students consulted at any point before the largest car park was blocked off during rush hour?
Car Park 6 (upper side only) will not be blocked off. Simply those that book for car-pooling between 07:00 and 10:00 have a reserved place. The difference in spaces would be open as usual for all. The more students car pool, the volume of cars entering UoM decreases and the higher chance non participants find a parking space. Contrary to what used to happen before where Car Park 4 was completely cut off irrelevant if the spaces are taken or not, we have actually improved this as boxes would be reserved depending on the demand. It’s this simple.
Or motor cycle bays replaced car parking spots?
The number of students that are using a motorcycle/scooter to campus has increased in past months to the extent that the current MC bay near Gateway was overcrowded, blocking the path way for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs. The new MC bay caters for 20 motorcycles. Space is limited, let’s use it the most efficiently. Providing comfortable MC parking will encourage more students to shift to two wheels. This goes in line with our campaign to promote sustainable mobility.
Or bins were put on parking bays as well instead of where they’re actually needed?
This is beyond our control. This move was carried out by UoM administration and we have already queried about it.
Do you feel that the number of respondents to the July 2017 survey is a good enough sample to represent roughly 8000 students with parking permits?
A sample of 600 students is very positive and provided us with reasonable data to find a middle path for all.
How would you react to the number of negative comments being posted by students?
It is normal that when you change something you will receive a backlash. We expected this, and understand a few people may be frustrated with the situation. It is for this reason that such initiatives are being pushed, so the volume of cars decreases, and alternatives are offered and are working well. We have already received positive comments from many students. The negative ones always make most noise. 4 years ago, KSU launched the car-pooling initiative in CP4, the comments back then were negative. Today students message us asking where we can car pool! Attitudes are changing, and we must push a greener mentality.
Why was it suddenly sprung on students rather than then being given any prior warning?
In reality, nothing much has changed, just the possibility that students that wish to car pool will have the space to park in as an incentive to do so. Sitting on the fence will solve nothing, we must understand that the single-driven private vehicle is the problem, and we must be drivers of change in our society by setting an example.
This framework by KSU was built on five pillars:
1) Car Pooling – Students must now apply to car pool by filling in a form on the KSU website a day before in order to reserve a spot in the upper part of Car Park 6. Apart from the driver, two of the passengers must also be drivers with registered parking permits, and this will be verified by security upon entrance.
2) Park and Ride – A Park and Ride system has been set up in Mosta with the Ministry of Transport with students having subsidised rates upon registering to use the service on a per semester basis.
3) Malta Public Transport Fund – Accepted applicants to this fund will be entitled to three months of free public transport during the second semester, with a maximum price for students of €21 per month in other months. People eligible for this fund must either forfeit and return their parking permit to KSU by the end of January 2018; or if students haven’t yet picked up the parking permit, they can forfeit their right to apply to it until May 2018.
4) Motorcycles – KSU in collaboration with Gordon’s Moto Centre will be organising half-day motorcycle learning sessions and students will also be able to sign up for the Category B 125cc Motorcycle Permit consisting of 10 hours which will be subsidised by the council and offered at a 50% discount along with revocation of parking permits, where applicable.
5) Cycling – KSU will be applying for the ‘Bicycle Racks Fund’ which was launched by the government in the 2017 Budget to increase bicycle parking on campus. Nextbike Malta will also be offering an annual membership at 50% off, costing students €40 with a potential of 300 bicycles and 52 stations all over the island.