Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You can buy a car, but you can't drive to work?

Cars are expensive in Singapore. Buying it is expensive, maintaining it with all the insurance, tax, petrol and ERP charges is expensive, but parking is even more expensive. A lot of us bought a car because we needed it to take us to work. Either our workplace is at some ulu pandan place where the nearest bus stop is a km away with one pathetic bus coming in every 15-30mins, or we need to be in office super early/super late. For me, it's always the first reason.

In the first company that I worked for, when we first moved into the building, parking was free and life was good. However as more departments moved in, the carpark is not adequate to support all 6 floors of workers. As a resort, the officials did what all Singaporeans fear most. They started to charge us for parking. At a rate that is equivalent to parking in Orchard Road/Shenton Way on a week day, even though our building is nowhere near town.

In order not to be too cruel, the official handed out free season parking lots to departments, with a few permanent staff sharing one and all the contractors in a department sharing one. With a population of about 10% permanents and 90% contractors in the company, our department ended up with 6 contractors sharing one little season parking. The rest of us? What else but pay two hundreds over a month for parking?

My second company was situated in a building with season parking lots as rare as diamonds, because there was a supermarket at the ground floor and the officials have to reserve lots for their customers. As a result, in order to avoid paying high parking fees, most of the workers ended up parking outside the private houses nearby. Oh yeh, thank God the area was so surrounded by private houses that we had no problem locating small roads without double yellow lines or non-breaking white dividers. But I feel kinda sorry for those private houses owners though, that privacy is lost when strangers park all over the road outside their houses.

Now to my third and current company, silly me had thought that parking will no longer be a problem, because the company is situated in a World-Class Research Hub whose official homepage introduced:

It is a self-contained development that includes serviced apartments, retail outlets, eateries, a supermarket, a fitness centre, a theatre, sky gardens and a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station. A Great Place to Work, Live & Play.

Phase 1 of was completed in 2001 at a cost of S$500 million. The 7-building complex, linked by skybridges, offers a built-up area of 185,000 sq m (2 million sq ft). Phase II was completed in 2006, and its 37,000 sq m (400,000 sq ft) houses more biomedical research institutes as well as private research organisations. Phase III is currently under construction and is expected to yield another 41,500 sq m (447,000 sq ft) of space to support clinical and translational research by end 2009.

But alas, when the naive me requested for the $90 season parking lot from the officials, I was so rejected...

We are sorry. From season parking record, your company had already exceeded the season ticket allocation quota based on every 250 m2 for 1 season ticket.

Yap, in such a gigantic World-Class Research Hub with many empty season parking lots, I get none, even if I am willing to pay for it.

One might feel that allocating season parking quota according to the company area size seems fair on paper. But is it really true that in a large company rich enough to own a whole floor, most of its employees drive? And that in a small company, most of its employees should not be driving?

I'll only say that the season parking allocation policy for this World-Class Research Hub is as flexible as all other policies found in the statboards...

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