By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Hapless commuters at Narre Warren railway station are copping a flurry of parking tickets after being squeezed out of the partially-closed station car park.
They appear to have been doubly stung by a lack of alternative all-day parking and a blitz by Casey Council parking officers in the area.
Berwick uni student Nash Crawford was slapped with two $79 parking tickets in two days for overstaying in four-hour parking bays next to an abandoned leisure centre in nearby Rebound Court.
He said he had no choice after finding the station’s all-day car park was full.
“Eighty dollars is the cost of two tanks of petrol,” Mr Crawford said.
“It’s hard to pay. There’s not much time to work when you’re at uni five days a week.”
This year, Mr Crawford had been driving past the full Berwick railway station car park each weekday morning to commute from Narre Warren to his St Albans campus west of Melbourne.
Now the situation was hopeless too at Narre Warren, since up to 150 spaces were closed at the 658-bay station car park for Level Crossing Removal Authority works from late July to 3 September.
During the works, no alternative car parks have been provided by the authority near Narre Warren.
The closest extra parking has been provided at Sandown Park station as well as East Malvern, Holmesglen, Huntingdale and Clayton for nine other car park closures in the Dandenong rail corridor.
Meanwhile, Casey Council issued 63 parking tickets in the Rebound Court precinct during the works in the first two weeks of August.
It’s more than double the 30 issued for the entirety of August 2016.
Commuter ‘John’ accused Casey Council parking officers of targeting train passengers during the works.
After 18 months of never receiving a parking ticket in Rebound Court, he’d received two parking tickets in a fortnight after works began in late July.
“Is it right for the council to take advantage and not provide an alternative parking option?
“It’s not like the spots in Rebound Court are full. There are plenty of spots that are quite free.”
Casey Council community safety manager Caroline Bell said the increased parking officer presence was due to a significant number of complaints.
“The increase in the number of infringements is a reflection of increased enforcement overall and not specific to the closed station car parks.”
Casey transport strategic advisor Paul Hamilton said the council shared commuters’ frustrations about the scarcity of station parking.
The council had advocated for an upgrade at Narre Warren station and for improved bus connections.
“Council has the difficult task of balancing the needs of commuters with the impact on the adjoining business and residential areas, including the area surrounding Rebound Court.
“The parking surrounding Rebound Court in Narre Warren has been provided for the range of businesses in the area, and council manages the situation with a mixture of parking controls aimed at balancing the needs of commuters, residents and businesses.”
Level Crossing Removal Authority project director Brett Summers said the car park closures were staged for power and signalling works.
He didn’t comment on the lack of alternative parking provided by the authority.
“These works will enable the introduction of the new High Capacity Metro Trains along the line, which will mean bigger trains and more reliable services on Melbourne’s busiest train line.
“We appreciate people’s patience while these important network upgrades are underway.”
Public Transport Users’ Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said: “By the time you’ve driven to Clayton or Sandown Park to find a space, you’re halfway to the city.
“Improvements to pedestrian, cycling and bus services would help more people get to the station without having to drive, and should be provided not just while works are happening, but on a permanent basis.“