By Estelle Low
Sales manager Jerry Ang took 45 minutes to park his car at the new Tampines 1 mall yesterday.
"I feel cheated, I shouldn't have wasted my time here. I'll have to think twice before driving here next time," said Mr Ang, 47, who was there with his wife.
They were not the only ones fuming.
A Sunday Times check of the new multimillion-dollar mall at 2pm yesterday revealed a long queue of cars along the narrow Tampines Central 1, with some drivers honking car horns out of exasperation.
Tampines 1 may cost all of $450 million and boast tenants like Japanese street-style label Uniqlo, but it also has a small number of parking lots - just 203.
In contrast, the other two malls in the vicinity, Tampines Mall and Century Square, have 680 and 308 lots respectively.
Opened last Thursday, the new mall has seen about 120,000 people thronging it each day.
Ms Stephanie Ho, general manager of AsiaMalls Management which owns and runs the mall, said there are "sufficient parking options" as it is beside an MRT station and bus interchange, and close to two other malls and HDB estates.
|The new Tampines 1 shopping centre may boast huge human traffic and new retail outlets but
with only 203 parking lots and a new valet parking service, shoppers have complained it takes
20 minutes to get their car back.
But most shoppers expect to park at the mall itself and many who turned up yesterday, unaware about the limited lots, were left frustrated.
Mr Sng Wee Seng, 33, who was with his wife, maid and two children, had to use a multi-storey carpark behind the bus interchange.
It took him at least 20 minutes to find a lot because, he noted, many other Tampines 1 shoppers had also parked there.
"The 203 lots are certainly not enough for shoppers and the more than 170 tenants. If not for my kids, I wouldn't drive here," the civil servant grumbled.
Even the tenants themselves have not escaped the parking squeeze.
A salesman from Jewel Pavilion, who wished to be known only as Kevin, cycled to work yesterday. He had spent 20 minutes on Thursday trying to park his car.
"The condition is very bad. I'm not going to drive to work any more," he said, adding that he hoped the limited parking would not deter people from going to the mall.
Mr Robert Aw Yeong, 39, manager of jewellery shop TianPo, has opted to take a train from his home in Toa Payoh instead of driving.
"The carpark queue was very, very long on Thursday. I had to use an HDB carpark nearby," he said.
To ease the traffic flow in the first few weeks of the mall's opening, valet parking at $5 has been introduced on weekends, public holidays and the eve of public holidays.
However, mall patrons and tenants said this was no speedy solution. It took the valets 20 minutes to return the cars - parked in HDB carparks - to the customers.
Still, for the past three days, about 300 drivers have used the service.
AsiaMalls is in talks with the valet-parking vendor and the Land Transport Authority to resolve the traffic and parking woes.
But some people are taking things in their stride.
"When a mall has just opened, these things happen. It's also good in a way because it will help our eco-system by encouraging people to take public transport more often," said Mr Aw Yeong.
What do you make of the parking situation at Tampines 1? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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