Thursday, 2 July 2009

The end of a commuting era

The cars! No! Not the cars!

Is this Pyongyang on Kim Il Sung Day? Are we in Chernobyl? No, it's Thursday lunchtime on ul. Przemysłowa, Powiśle, one mile as the crow flies from the very centre of Warsaw. Normally, you cannot squeeze a paperback between the bumpers of cars parked along this street. OK, we're into the second week of the school holidays - but, like, where have all the cars gone?

I arrived back at the office today knowing that something's changed for ever. Gone are the free-and-easy days of driving to work, when finding a space was the commuter's only worry. As of yesterday, Warsaw's parking meter zone was extended out towards Powiśle (where our offices are). Residents can still park for free, but an eight-hour stay will cost commuters nearly 30 zł, around six quid. A significant chunk of most people's daily earnings around here.

My strategy for getting around this is not perfect, as Warsaw's wonderful Metro runs three bus stops short of my office and starts a long way from home. So I drive (20 mins) to Metro Stokłosy (lit. "Hundred Sheaves") station, which has a Park + Ride facility - free parking for those using public transport to get into the centre. To park for free, you need a network ticket valid for at least 24 hours. As this costs 9 złotys (less than two quid), for which I get parking plus two Metro and two bus rides, it makes good sense. In terms of petrol, currently 4zł 70gr/90p a litre or thereabouts, taking Metro and bus to work from Stokłosy is saving me around a litre's worth a day. So overall I'm less well off and having to make that awkward change from Metro to bus at Politechnika station; time-wise I'm losing out too, and I miss not listening to TokFM (quick plug for EKG with Tadeusz Mosz, an excellent economics talk-show).

So for all my talk about the benefits of cycling to work (which I'll do tomorrow) and public transport, I actually feel a sense of loss at being deprived of the liberty of driving to work and parking outside the office for free. Still, public policy needs to be a mixture of stick and carrot.

I wait for a decent carrot in the form of improved public transport to and from Jeziorki. Above: Stokłosy P+R at 7:15am; plenty of space available.

This time last year:
Towers of London

This time two years ago:
Maybugs in July
High summer in Jeziorki
Wild deer near Las Kabacki forest


Anonymous said...

Parking place is NOT a human right, neither is driving into the centre. London has the right policy, I think.

But positively speaking, why don't you take the train from Jeziorki to Warszawa-Powisle and then just walk ? 32 minutes on train according to and a quarter on foot, according to google maps.

Anonymous said...

Przemsylowa is ALWAYS pretty empty. I used to live on Gornoslaska - Gornoslaska and Fabryczna were always teeming with life whereas Przemyslowa was always a little 'dead'.
Warsaw's full of odd little dead zones like this. Take Praga for instance and the little streets off Targowa and Francuska (Saska Kepa)...
Warsaw's a strange one, it really is. ;-)