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Mechanised parking trial in three estates to cost HDB S$18m

SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) bill for building mechanised parking systems in three estates — as part of a pilot to ease the parking crunch in several older towns — was yesterday revealed to be about S$18 million.

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SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) bill for building mechanised parking systems in three estates — as part of a pilot to ease the parking crunch in several older towns — was yesterday revealed to be about S$18 million.

Work will start next week and the systems will be completed by the third quarter of next year.

With these systems yielding an additional 219 parking lots in total in land-scarce Yishun Avenue 4, Changi Village Road and Bangkit Road, the cost of each lot works out to about S$82,200, on average.

Plans to build such systems in a trial to address car park shortages in older HDB estates, where there is limited space to build more lots, were first announced in October last year. Then, some observers had cited concerns about the high costs of constructing and maintaining these systems.

Commenting on the cost of the mechanised parking system that the HDB will build in Bangkit Road, which is in Bukit Panjang, the constituency’s Member of Parliament Teo Ho Pin said yesterday that what is important to him is that residents or visitors are able to get a parking space.

“To me, the town centre always (faces a) demand for car park lots, so I think it’s definitely value for money to invest in this system. Many town centres, housing estates do not have land parcels for building multi-storey and surface car parks. So I think this is a very good, innovative solution to provide more car park lots.”

The 15-storey “tower parking system” to be built beside Block 259A Bangkit Road will add another 60 parking spaces at a cost of about S$5 million. A similar system to be built beside Block 666A Yishun Avenue 4 will cost about S$3 million for an additional 22 parking spaces.

The “cart system” that will be built behind Block 1 Changi Village Road will cost about S$10 million for 137 parking spaces. In comparison, the now-demolished mechanised parking system in Club Street, which also used a “cart system”, cost S$6 million to build and had 140 lots.

Dr Lee Bee Wah, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment, noted that construction costs have gone up tremendously over the past few years. “If you price in land costs, (the mechanised parking system) could be a viable option.”

Noting that Japan and South Korea had been using such systems since the 1950s, Dr Lee said mechanised parking systems should be “the way forward” for a land-scarce Singapore.

In 2012, she initiated a study on the viability of mechanised parking in HDB estates, where a team evaluated mechanised parking technologies and looked into potential implementation issues, such as residents’ acceptance.

Nanyang Technological University economist Walter Theseira said factors besides construction costs should go into determining whether it is a cost-effective parking solution. He cited the land’s value — which is affected by availability of and demand for land space — as a factor. The opportunity cost of land, which some residents would prefer using for amenities besides parking spaces, is another, he said.

He also noted that construction and maintenance costs could be lowered over time due to economies of scale, but that is also dependent on how aggressively the HDB chooses to roll out these systems.

Apart from costs of construction and maintenance, there was earlier feedback that motorists have to be taught how to use the systems.

In response, an HDB spokesperson said yesterday that during the initial period, it would deploy staff on-site to guide motorists on the use of the mechanised parking system. The system will come with instructions to guide them to park their vehicles properly. User guides detailing steps to use the system will also be displayed.

Such mechanised parking systems take between 90 seconds and two minutes to park or retrieve a car, estimates by the HDB and operators showed.

The HDB said a “comprehensive maintenance regime” would be in place, which includes fitting the system with a back-up power generator and a manual mechanism to retrieve the vehicle, as well as a 24-hour service hotline for immediate assistance.

For the pilot, the HDB said it would adopt the same parking charges for the mechanised parking system as those for existing car parks.

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