Mall carparks going green

Going green has its privileges for drivers of eco-friendly wheels, such as hybrid cars, who get to use reserved parking spaces at some malls in Singapore.
At least two malls - 313@Somerset in Orchard Road and City Square Mall in Kitchener Road - have such reserved spots, even if these tend to be mostly empty.

The two malls' spokesmen said they want to give drivers of eco-friendly cars a pat on the back.

Hybrid cars are so called because they have a petrol engine as well as an electric one. They pollute less but cost more than petrol-driven cars. There are only 2,600 hybrid cars (the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Lexus RX400h models) in Singapore, compared to 571,600 petrol-driven cars. All-electric cars are also privileged at the two malls but there is only one such vehicle as of last year, the Land Transport Authority's website showed.

A spokesman for property developer City Developments Ltd (CDL), which manages City Square Mall, said: "We encourage shoppers to choose eco- friendly vehicles to save the environment." City Square Mall's 10 hybrid- only parking spots are painted green and located close to lift lobbies.

There are also four spots (painted light blue) for electric cars. Over at Land Lease's 313@Somerset, there are four "green" parking spots. Drivers of hybrid and electric cars can use them. So can drivers of bi-fuel cars which can run on both petrol and compressed natural gas.

Honda Civic Hybrid driver Jannie Lim, 52, welcomes such parking spots. "It's like icing on the cake," said the manager of a local multimedia firm. She said she has saved at least 30 per cent on her petrol expenses since buying the car three years ago.

Some other malls contacted remained non-committal. But a spokesman for CapitaMalls Asia, one of Asia's largest mall operators, told The Sunday Times it might take the cue from the two malls. "We are currently looking into the possibility of providing special spots for hybrid and electric cars," she said.

CapitaMalls' properties in Singapore include Ion Orchard, Plaza Singapura, Junction 8, Bugis Junction and Raffles City Singapore. Marina Centre Holdings, which manages Marina Square, said it is "keeping options open" on such green parking spots.

This wait-and-see attitude may be for reasons ranging from the small number of eco-friendly cars to having to monitor the reserved spaces.

Even Land Lease and CDL admitted their reserved spots are not always taken up. Drivers of petrol-driven cars have also ignored the "wheel clamp" warning signs on the pillars and walls next to these spots.

Since City Square Mall opened in September last year, it has issued 10 warning notes to such drivers but no car has been clamped to date.

CDL's spokesman said: "Our guards patrol the area, cameras monitor the carpark and we place notes on cars which may have unintentionally parked in these spots."

City Square Mall keeps a record of the car plate numbers of previous "offenders".

A spokesman for Land Lease said security guards at its 313@Somerset mall randomly enforce the parking restrictions.

When they see unauthorised vehicles in the green spaces, they wait for the owners to return to their cars before telling them they are not allowed to park there.

But Land Lease does not keep tabs on unauthorised vehicles parking in the green spots, "to avoid offending our shoppers".
City Developments Ltd
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