|Chermside - with empty car parking spaces! Image: Nearmap|
One of BrizCommuters work colleagues has had a torrid few days since "Chermsideaggedon". On the first attempt, she tried to park in the streets around Chermside, only to find out that so had everyone else. After wasting 30 minutes trying to find somewhere to park within walking distance of Chermside Bus Station, she gave up, and drove to Herston, only to find car parks there were also full. Eventually she found a location in a back street, 15 minutes walk from work where she arrived to work 80 minutes late! Attempt two involved using infrequent public transport from near to her Northern suburbs home. Unfortunately the bus allegedly failed to turn up, so she had to wait an hour for the next bus to Chermside. The bus from Chermside then became stuck in worse traffic than usual, resulting a slightly improved arrival at work only 75 minutes late.
So who is to blame? Many have justifiably accused Westfield of corporate greed by adding parking charges. It is well known that aside from the run up the Christmas, the car park at Chermside is rarely full during the Monday to Friday commuting week. So what is Westfield's problem with commuters? BrizCommuter is also pretty sure that Westfield would not have contributed to the entire cost of the extensive Chermside bus interchange next to the shopping centre! On the other hand, are Brisbane City Council, and the Queensland Government rather naive in expecting private companies to provide commuter park and ride facilities on their properties for free? Also, the existing bus network fails to provide an attractive feeder network to the core high frequency routes, forcing commuters to drive to park and ride facilities.
So what can be done? Can politicians force Westfield to reverse their corporate greed? BrizCommuter thinks this is unlikely. Will people power do the same? BrizCommuter doubts this due to the typical Australian apathy? Will TransLink suddenly introduce a raft of frequent feeder buses, and alternative park and ride locations. Not likely, and certainly not in the short term. It seems that Northern Suburbs commuters and residents around Chermside have been well and truly screwed by a combination of Westfield, and poor political planning.