The free park-and-ride system for shoppers in the city this Christmas is up and running.
The problem is, no one seems to be using it.
As of yesterday, commuters into downtown Port of Spain agonising over parking options that won't get them towed, were allowed to park in the paved portion of the Queen's Park Savannah (opposite the National Academy for the Performing Arts) for free, and take a shuttle, also free, anywhere along Frederick Street to Abercromby Street.
The Express decided to test the system, and was surprised to find fewer than 20 cars at the Savannah parking lot. There was, however, a waiting PTSC bus ready to ferry passengers—if they ever came.
This reporter, a photographer and two camera crews from other media houses who had the same idea for a story, decided to take a bus ride along the route.
For the entire trip, the bus picked up one passenger, Zahir Mohammed of Cunupia, who found the system very convenient.
"I heard about the system on the news and thought it would be very convenient. This is a good thing. I hope it lasts longer," he said.
Parking was also made available on the compound where the Salvatori building was. Parking at the compound is also free, and holds up to 60 cars. Despite being at the heart of downtown, a few parking spaces were still available throughout the day—possibly because people were not aware of the availability.
Claudette Governor of Tobago was however still appreciative of the service: "I didn't realise it was here. I just followed someone into the lot, but I'm glad it's free. I was actually looking for somewhere with paid parking when I found this," she said. It was even better for her because in Tobago, she was accustomed to free parking.
Nevertheless, there were still some people who chose to take the risk and park illegally. All along Henry, Abercromby and Queen Streets, there were cars parked under no parking signs.
But beware, the wrecker is still on the loose. The Express observed one man, almost close to tears, pleading to no avail as the wrecker towed his car along lower Independence Square yesterday afternoon.