Parking at UOM; Fuel has been poured onto the fire

Image: Danielle Pala

The start to the 2017 scholastic year was one that many of us will remember for a long time and we hope that we will not keep re-living it until next June. Apart from the horrendous amounts of rain and traffic which were bestowed upon us during the first week of October, we somehow arrived on University grounds to find a few issues which make the challenging morning drive seem like a walk in the park.

Image: Danielle Pala

The main problem is that one of the exits (which leads to the field and normally saves the majority of us in a time of need) is now closed, due to the works related to the Kappara Junction, which commenced during the summer of 2016. Why or for how long we will be in this situation we don’t know either. The exit from University has been closed since July ’17. This might seem like a small problem but it means that we have lost a significant number of student parking spaces and nobody thought of replacing them in any way. Why didn’t anyone at least think of a path for pedestrians so students can still use the space and not have to walk all the way around the grounds and enter from the gate closest to the skatepark? Many students are not even sure if the space can be used.

The lack of spots has resulted in parking becoming an issue as of 7.15am. I know that we can’t expect to arrive and have ample space to park, but in my first year here, arriving at 7.35am for an 8 o’clock lecture guaranteed me a spot. I now have to make sure I arrive here at 7.10am, no matter what time I start. Do you think this normal?

Image: Danielle Pala

By 8.05am the chaotic atmosphere dies down to a scene which always makes me think that if there were a Zombie apocalypse, this would be what Malta would look like. Cautious drivers seem to abandon their vehicles anywhere and everywhere. As long as your car is not blocking anyone, then just walk away and hope that the security guard has mercy and analyses your decision the same way you did. If not you’ll get back and find your car clamped, as this year we no longer get our warnings, we are immediately clamped, but let’s not get into the issues I have with clamping students on campus trying to make it to a lecture. “The odds are forever in your favour” as KSU stated earlier this year - I genuinely think that they were referring to us racing to a blue spot on campus and managing to make it to a lecture.

The parking issue has been ongoing for many years. I remember being a student at Junior College and coming to University for a debate on the matter. I obviously didn’t understand the situation to the full at that time, but I vividly recall people voicing the idea of a car park or a solution to the situation. This was 12 years ago, might I add.

Image: Danielle Pala

So what can we do about it? Because clearly something needs to be done. Public transport is a favoured alternative, and the government has attempted to incentivise it, however, giving students between the ages of 16 and 20 free public transport doesn’t really affect university directly as the majority of students get their licences between the ages of 19 and 20. KSU introduced a carpool system last year which is great in theory, but didn’t translate to well in practise. The car park solely kept for people who carpool was firstly too small and lacking enforcement meant students would still find ways to abuse of the system and park there anyway. Knowing that KSU gave out an estimated 7000 permits last year is daunting to say the least. The University Grounds has roughly 1392 spaces (according to a survey conducted in 2011) which must cater for students as well as staff, and cannot legally be extended due to the University Master Plan and legal limitations of parking spaces allowed relative to the size of the campus.

KSU is planning to present alternative methods of transport, including a park-and-ride and an improved carpooling system, which will hopefully help and have us talking about something else between lectures other than how long it took us to park today. Since this is clearly an infrastructural problem, I think what we can all agree on is that solving a problem like this needs to be tackled with more than one solution.

Image: Danielle Pala

Image: Danielle Pala

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Danielle Pala

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