Sofia Mulls Changes in Divisive Parking Rules, Fees

Business | August 27, 2012, Monday // 10:03
Sofia Mulls Changes in Divisive Parking Rules, Fees: Sofia Mulls Changes in Divisive Parking Rules, Fees The new higher parking fees, were expected to be enforced as of September 1, but were postponed in the aftermath of protest rallies to October 1. Photo by BGNES

The Transport Committee at the Sofia City Hall is holding an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the new parking rules in the capital and the increase of parking fees.

The reexamination of the ordinance was triggered by a number of protest rallies by residents against the upcoming rules and fees. They affect people who live in downtown Sofia, in the so-called blue and green zones, who will be obliged to pay an annual fee of BGN 150 and BGN 100 respectively. Families living there will have to dig deeper in their pockets and pay fees three times higher if they have a second car. But even if the fee is paid, a parking space is far from certain.

In a bid to justify the controversial measures, municipality members said they aim to bring order in the parking lots and ease traffic in the capital.

Sofia municipal council approved the hike in parking fees at the beginning of March.

The fee for an hour's stay in the blue parking zones in downtown Sofia will increase from BGN 1 to BGN 2, under the adopted program for development of the public transport.

The fee for parking in the green zone in Sofia has been set at BGN 1 per hour.

Drivers will be allowed to park their vehicles in the blue and green zones for no more than two and four hours respectively.

All who want to pay their parking fees in a hassle-free way have to send a text message to number 1302 for subscribers of the three mobile operators Mtel, Globul and Vivacom.

After sending the SMS, the person gets a reply that the payment was successful. Five minutes before the pre-paid hour elapses, the subscriber receives a notification.

The demonstrators are slamming these changes as nothing short of racketeering and arm-twisting. In addition to revoking the new rules, they demand freeing sidewalks from parked cars and eliminating preferences for parking of vehicles of different institutions and private companies.

According to the civil movement DNES (Today), which challenged the new ordinance in Court, the petition against the new rules has been signed by 15 000 people.

The new higher fees, were expected to be enforced as of September 1, but were postponed in the aftermath of the protests to October 1. They have already been challenged in the Administrative Court by DNES. The case was filed on July 4.

On Monday, the Transport Committee will discuss the proposals of civic associations for changes in the ordinance. The new texts were prepared last week after representatives of the demonstrators met with the Chairman of the Municipal Council, Elen Gerdzhikov. According to the Head of the Committee, Radoslav Toshev, the final decision is not to be expected Monday.

Municipal councilors from the opposition, left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, have requested from Gerdzhikov to call an emergency session on August 31 to revoke the ordinance in full. They demand from the Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, to prepare brand new rules within a 3-month deadline and Toshev's dismissal.

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Tags: Radoslav Tochev, Transport Committee, BSP, Elen Gerdzhikov, mayor, sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, parking, sofia, fees, rules, blue, green, zone, protest rally, DNES
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