The Valletta controlled parking system is full of defects and abuse, but it should not be scrapped, according to a study conducted by city mayor Alexiei Dingli.
The mayor stressed that the CVA system has its advantages and reforming it would make more sense than eliminating it altogether, as the Prime Minister suggested.
“If well managed, the system works well. I’m afraid that without it there will be much bigger problems,” Dr Dingli warned.
Something is wrong here and the exemptions have to go down drastically
According to the study, which has been passed on to the Government and seen by Times of Malta, the CVA system started well when it was introduced in 2007.
However, lobbying and pressure to exempt certain vehicles by interest groups, including the business community and trade unions, resulted in a nonsensical system.
The numbers do not add up. While the local council calculates that Valletta residents have approximately 2,000 vehicles that actually ‘sleep’ in the city, there are officially 4,154 ‘Valletta-based vehicles’ exempted from the CVA.
Valletta mayor wants parking reform
Exemptions that permit vehicle owners to park wherever they want in the capital forfeiting the fee have been identified as one of the major problems.
The total climbed to almost 24,000 since the system’s launch and includes market hawkers, MPs and former MPs, garage owners, relatives of residents, delivery vans and motorcycles.
“It is clear to me that there are too many exemptions and that the number of exemptions to Valletta residents who own a car is more than twice our estimates.
“Something is wrong here and the exemptions have to go down drastically,” the mayor argued.
Despite the public perception that the system is costly, statistics show otherwise. Eighty-four per cent of the 300,000 vehicles that enter Valletta yearly do not pay as they are either exempt or stay fewer than 30 minutes.
Out of the 16 per cent that are charged, the majority pay under €40 a year – less than the cost of the ‘Valletta licences’ issued before the CVA was introduced. Only one per cent of CVA users pay more than €50 a year.
“This is also another issue to be looked at. To work better, charges have to be higher and the CVA catchment area has to be larger,” Dr Dingli said.
“It doesn’t make sense that the capital’s ring road is exempt from the CVA. We need high vehicle turnover in Valletta as this assures that more people can use the limited parking spaces and not the other way round.”
Valletta’s ring road was not included in the CVA system, freeing up 700 bays, following uproar by trade unions that government employees had nowhere to park.
This involved higher running costs as the smaller ‘controlled’ area needed more cameras to monitor its entrance and exit points.
According to the study, more people are travelling to Valletta on public transport and the number of private cars entering the city has fallen significantly.
But Dr Dingli said Government consultation with the council on the parking issue was almost non-existent.
“We had some information meetings with Transport Malta but we haven’t heard anything for a long time,” he said.
Drive round the bend
There are around 2,600 parking bays in the CVA system, of which 260 are reserved for residents during the day and 750 during the night.
Between 10am and 11.30am, it is estimated some 5,000 vehicles are parked in the city, mostly illegally.
The number of Valletta visitors entering by public transport rose from 46.1 per cent to 57 per cent after introducing the CVA.
Exemptions include: 4,154 Valletta residents; 640 relatives of residents; 93 open market hawkers; 104 MPs and MEPs; 1,110 disabled, 1,685 delivery vans and 2,686 public transport vehicles.
Only one per cent of vehicles using the CVA are charged more than €50 a year, 93 per cent of CVA vehicles are charged between 11 and 20 cents a day and another six per cent pay between 14 and 25 cents a day.
Mayor’s proposed solutions
• Introduce employees schemes or offer free park-and-ride for commuters with shuttle service.
• Revise tariffs making it easier for visitors to enter Valletta and difficult for commuters to park in the city.
• Revise exemptions.
• Enlarge the CVA zone to include the whole of Valletta.
• Improve mass transport and integrate it together.
• Enforce residential parking with harsher penalties.
• Provide real-time traffic information to visitors.