Parking woes at Health Sciences Centre

Andrew Robinson
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New automated system creates confusion, long lineups for drivers

A woman smoked a cigarette as she idled behind eight vehicles also trying to exit the Health Sciences Centre parking lot in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon. She did not mince words when asked to describe how she felt about the new automated parking system.

“It’s bullshit,” she quickly responded when asked about the system, which came into effect Tuesday.

The new system, which eliminates metered parking through a ticket-based system, created long lineups for vehicles trying to leave the parking lot through the manned kiosk exit.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said the woman smoking the cigarette, who did not want to give her name. “I’ve been here now 10 minutes in the line, and I’m not moving. I’d say I’ll be here another 15 or 20.”

For drivers at the back of the line, the wait to get through was complicated by vehicles attempting to enter the main lineup for the kiosk, which faces the patient entrance of the Health Sciences Centre.

Those vehicles attempting to enter the line from the left and right side relied on Good Samaritans to let them through. This created further delays for drivers at the back of the line waiting to present their ticket at the kiosk.

Vehicles waiting to join the line from the left side sometimes blocked vehicles that just received a ticket while entering the parking lot, creating further problems.

Lorraine Coates was among those drivers trying to join the main line from its right side Tuesday. She had already been waiting for eight minutes when she spoke with The Telegram.

“It’s a great idea,” she said of the new system, “but very, very slow.”

Tara Antle said it appeared there was some confusion amongst drivers on how to make best use of the new automated system.

“Inside there’s a pay station, and there’s a lady (who) stood there saying, ‘Come outside to pay,’ but even if you pay inside, you still have to come out and wait to get back out.”

Automated pay stations are located in the main hallway of the Health Sciences Centre near the main entrance and the adult emergency department entrance.

Frustrations boiled over at times Tuesday. One man was observed cursing at staff inside the kiosk.

Under the new system, drivers will pay 25 cents for 20 minutes of main lot parking, or 75 cents an hour for up to $12 per day.

Concerns raised

In an emailed statement to The Telegram, a spokeswoman for East­ern Health said the regional health authority was “aware of concerns expressed by some patients and visitors with regards to the change in the parking system.”

The spokeswoman said the lineup issue appeared to result from people getting acquainted with the new payment methods for parking. She said the health authority is committed to educating users, adding that staff were on site Tuesday to help members of the public figure out how to pay for parking.

Some of the drivers The Telegram spoke with Tuesday did say the situation will likely improve as time moves on.

“I mean, this is the first day,” said Coates. “Hopefully as time goes it will be better.”

Antle said she believes the new system is ultimately a better one when considering people previously were forced to periodically return to their parking spaces to fill the meters with more coins.

“It beats being inside and having to put money in the meter all the time, because it’s hard when you’re in there with somebody who’s very ill, or if you’re in there yourself and you can’t come out, so it’s a benefit that way.”

Along with the kiosk, drivers can use two exits on Clinch Crescent, both of which accept pre-validated tickets and credit card payments.

Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Health Sciences Centre

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Recent comments

  • No Free Parking
    October 11, 2012 - 09:29

    Health Care should be free, but parking is not part of health care. A doctor does not diagnose parking. You are not treated for parking. You have to go to the hospital, but you do not have to park. What is next? How about free parking at various doctors offices or drug stores? How about free taxis or buses for people without cars to hospitals, drug stores, doctors offices, etc?

  • ABC
    October 11, 2012 - 08:27

    I think anyone complaining about paying .75 to spend an hour at the hospital needs a reality check. People want more MRI machines, less wait times in the ER, etc but only if the money for it grows on trees. They don't want higher taxes, and they certainly don't want to pay $5 to park their $20k car. We already spend the most on healthcare per person, of any province in Canada. The government can't give the hospital any more money, so where do they get the money to cover snow clearing/parking enforcement/paving etc if the parking lot stops being self funding? They cut somewhere else, and the money that previously went to patient care, now goes to painting lines on the parking lot. Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, Newfoundlanders favorite pass-time. The people asking why a mall can offer free parking but a hospital can't really made me worry about the state of our education system. The mall is a business, it has free parking to entice you to go there and spend money. The more people that go to mall, the more money the mall makes. Simple economics. The hospital is not a business, the more people who go there, the more money it costs the hospital. Apples to oranges folks....

  • MIkey Baker Jr.
    October 11, 2012 - 06:37

    I turned on my GPS - aka the TomTom and the voice told me not to pay........follow Tom, you are foolish if you can't figure out why when he shows up at court he's told to go home. If we all did it, the kiosks would eventually vanish. Our court system is busy enough not to have a parade of people marching in and out over 50 cents. But we have to stand up instead of laying down. Way to go Tom.

  • tally
    October 10, 2012 - 20:23

    like someone mentioned earlier, if it was free, then the closer spots would all be used by mun students, staff etc. then people would complain even more if they saw this! at least now we dont have to worry about getting tickets or having to worry about feeding the meter. people just like to complain about something. it may not be set up the best, but i cant actually comment on that as i have not used it yet and can only go by what others say, but then we have others who say it was no issue. people in nfld can barely drive as it is, so i am sure no matter what we will have issues on that parkway, just as we did when there were meters. some guy on the news today even said he wasnt paying as he didnt think it was right, so does that mean he was nornally not putting money in the meter and then not paying his tickets??????? grrrrr we nflders sound so stupid sometimes

  • thesmoker
    October 10, 2012 - 19:39

    Yes, it was wrong that I was smoking. Yes, I said the system is bull****! After waiting 10 mins and not moving, my smoke was well deserved wityhin my own car thanks.(Not that this was the subject at hand) my complaint is not about the price seeing as how in all reality it saves ppl money. U pay for time spent there rather than overpaying to be safe, or coming out from a medical related situation to find a ticket. My complaint is the space is not adequate for a properly functioning system !!!! One exit lane is very difficult to access and the only cash lane with the attendant at the wicket blocks off the whole lane of parked cars making it nearly impossible to get out. If u were to pay inside and habe the alotted 15 mins to leave, what happens if u don't make it out in that 15 minutes! At the airport, there are 3 lanes to exit, less daily traffic in my eyes, and no cars are blocked off in the process. Hope this elaborates on my "bull****" comment a little more.

    • KENK
      October 11, 2012 - 09:42

      To "The Smoker", As I read this article I kept asking myself why it was so important for the reporter to mention the fact that you were smoking. The story was about the new parking kiosk not about you smoking or saying bulls@#t. You were in your own car and to me if you pay your insurance, pay for your gas, paid for your car, it's your own business if you choose to smoke in YOUR car. Your feet are not on EH property and as long as there is not a child under 16 yrs of age in with you, it is my opinion that you have the right to smoke in your vehicle.

  • Brainiac
    October 10, 2012 - 16:29

    Hey, genius Brad, guess who already paid for that parking lot? The parking lot fairy? Taxpayers did ya moron! It's the likes of you that makes living in this place so expensive. You like to lie down and play dead instead of doing something, other than bending over and taking it without as much as a complaint. Grow a pair would ya!

  • Yes
    October 10, 2012 - 14:48

    I absolutely LOVE this new system. I was at the hospital last night and all day today, and both times I felt a sigh of relief as I entered through the gate - I didn't need to search my car for change for the meter! Last night it was a little slow getting out of the lot, but honestly it's a new system and I like that they are taking the time to implement the system properly and have lots of staff around for assistance. This system is fabulous for people who go to the hospital for bloodwork and don't know if they will be there 15 minutes of 3 hours. It's fabulous for people who are visiting loved ones and don't want to have to run outside to keep the meter going. It also reduces the cost of parking over time for most. How many times have you filled a meter only to leave earlier than expected, and leave a bunch of time on the meter for the next guest to use. The system is very much in line with the airport, and as well as the City's Park Card program. You get to fill up a meter, leave when you like and get refunded for the time you didn't take. Perfect system! Be patient, everybody! It will get easier.

  • jt
    October 10, 2012 - 14:40

    Eastern Health couldn't organize a one car parade....honestly.

  • NowIsee
    October 10, 2012 - 13:19


  • California Pete from NFLD
    October 10, 2012 - 12:35

    Are you nuts up ther but then when you healh care is free income has to come from somewhere . No thanks I will stay where I am at least parking is No Charge here thank you

  • harry
    October 10, 2012 - 12:10

    to the idiot from winnepeg,,,, when in rome do as the romans do ....

  • HaHaHa
    October 10, 2012 - 12:08

    How hard can it be people? I guess these fools do not know how to use an ATM or Vending Machine either. They also do not know the rules of the road either, cars on the main road through a parking lot have the right of way. The cars coming out of the lot would have to yeild to those passing by or turning in. Meanwhile, the cars on the main road are not to block off the cars on the side road to avoid jams which can prevent quick access in emergency cases.

    • Common Sense
      October 10, 2012 - 14:59

      Although not rule, common courtesy like this should go into the supermarkets as well when it comes to people and carts. Treat the aisles as roads. If you are turning and someone is coming straight at you, do not cut them off, yeild right of way. Don't block off the aisles when waiting in line, let people pass through. If you are going down the middle of an aisle and somone is coming straight at you, veer right. Don't leave your cart in the middle of an aisle while you are looking for something, "park" it on the side so people can pass by.

  • Sillee Newfeez
    October 10, 2012 - 12:05

    Perhaps if she didn't smoke she wouldn't need to be at the Health Sciences center in the first place.

  • sparky
    October 10, 2012 - 10:15

    Things will never change in nfld,its 'a-make-work-project' & no-one seems to notice! Lots of money spent on parking & now it has tobe all done over again!,thats going to make alot of work for somepeople? Follow the money people! find-out:when the money is spent on 'trying to fix parking troubles',were it ends up! Its like the traffic lights in CBS,if its winding they blink yellow until someone has tobe called to Reset them: "come out & push a button" but he gets paid for a service call !!!!! "Share The Wealth Folks"

  • crista
    October 10, 2012 - 10:09

    newfoundland and labrador is not the u.s.a. this is a place where sick people and people with problems go to and not everybody can not afford to pay for it have some common sense???? and good for winnipeg????

  • BillR
    October 10, 2012 - 09:54

    Poor design. The entrance and exit should be separated. There should be an express exit line like at the Airport. I used the meter cards for years and had no problems and never had to wait. You scanned your card in the meter when you park and it took the max fee off the card. When you left, you inserted your card and it put the unused amount back on. No problem! I have two vehicles two cards. The City use a similar system for their meters it works great. I've never had a ticket since. Free parking! Get real, it would be filled by MUN students and Staff who can't get permits. By the way you pay for parking in the Mall. Costs are part of tenant rent which is then built into the prices you pay. There are many more using and parking turns over more frequently. People nothing is free. User pay or everyone pays through taxes. So all those who never use the parking would also pay. Welcome to the 21st century. Parking of horse and buggy is free. Park on the lawn.

  • Kent
    October 10, 2012 - 09:48

    This was poorly planned and excuted. Parkign for both the public and employees has turned into a nightmare over there. The line-up of cars waiting to enter the pay-parking area obstructs traffic on Clinche Crescent, as well as entry to Emergency vehichles into Janeway and HSC. An entire lot of a employee parking was displaced causing a lack of avaialble parkgin for employees as well. As usual Eeastern Health has fallen to the occassion and now blame the public for confused about the paying procedures. Even if the paying procedure worked flawlessly, there is still the simple fact that dozensof cars can't get in and out of these gates effeciently.... Just wait until winter hits and the snow removal comes into play.

    October 10, 2012 - 09:24


    • J
      October 10, 2012 - 11:14

      This comment shows the level of education of some of the commenters here - we all pay for healthcare through our taxes - well, those of us that work anyway.

  • saelcove
    October 10, 2012 - 09:23

    Why are people so afraid of change this is the way it,s done every where else,

  • ParkedYesterday
    October 10, 2012 - 09:21

    We used the parking lot yesterday with no hitches at all. It was great not to have to worry about feeding the meter while we were at the Janeway for most of the day! There were a number of people (I belive staff from the new parking equipment company) around the parking lot helping folks figure out the new system. Also, with the previous staff lots open to the public we had no trouble finding a place to park. When we left, we had a very short wait to exit (mostly because folks were trying to figure out how to pay), and the staff on hand were very friendly and helpful. For the first day of the new parking system, I thought it went relatively well. I suspect that there will be some configuration changes to the parking lot to allow for better traffic flow and access to the former staff parking areas - all things that will come with time.

  • NON
    October 10, 2012 - 09:18

    This system works everywhere , just need more exits for people who paid inside .

  • tally
    October 10, 2012 - 08:47

    I find it interesting that no one commented on the fact that someone was smoking on eastern health property, as the rule is that you are also not allowed to smoke in your cars if they are on the lot.

  • flexxa
    October 10, 2012 - 08:41

    ...there is no smoking on hospital grounds. typical rules no one follows nor do they get enforced. the health authority is a joke.

  • David Wilson
    October 10, 2012 - 08:21

    The days of parking on the lot for free late at night to visit a sick relative are over. Eastern Health took note of the lost revenue and have found a way to finally clawing every last penny out of the lot users. Think I'll just have to start jumping the curb in my SUV. Oh, I spoke to soon, now they will spent a couple of $100K to erect a fence around the perimieter of the lot. No wonder Vickie K. gets paid the big bucks for these penny pinching solutions.

  • Money Grab
    October 10, 2012 - 07:57

    Shouldn't be charging people to park at the hospital at all! It's free to park at the mall for christ sake. They only took the meters out due to the fact that they didn't want to pay to have them replaced for the lighter coins the mint are now issuing.

    • Brad
      October 10, 2012 - 08:07

      Hey genius, even if parking was free, guess who would be paying for it? Hint: You fill these ___ returns out every march/april.

  • Nellie
    October 10, 2012 - 07:50

    What did the man who was observed cursing at staff inside the kiosk accomplish? He accomplished one thing: showing what an idiot he is!

  • Harold
    October 10, 2012 - 07:35

    I always tried to park in the $2.00 lot. sure i had to walk further and it wasn't always convenient but at least i didn't have to worry about tickets. we, the , people built this parking lot. we, the , people paid for it. why are we being charged to pay for something "WE" own? we go to a shopping mall by choice and parking is free, we go to a hospital because we have to and pay for parking. this system may work for Eastern health over time but if there is only one exit then it's not enough for the volumn of traffic that enters and exits the HS parking lot.

  • Oh My
    October 10, 2012 - 07:04

    You just can't satisfy some people, they want everything NOW.

  • Mary
    October 10, 2012 - 06:43

    People will never be pleased.....the meters were fine with me.....just put enough money in and if you didn't use it all you would give a break to the next person....maybe they needed it. Not much to pay for our health care......imagine what you would pay if you lived in the USA!!!

    • Newfie
      October 10, 2012 - 10:51

      25 cents for 20 minutes? 75 cents for an hour and there are complaints? I live in Edmonton, AB and if you seen the rates for parking up here you would be thankful for the low rates at home. At least there it maxes out. No matter where you go here, it is ay parking. Have a doctors appointment? During the day you are paying 3 dollars an hour at a meter, and 1 an hour after 6. The pay lots where you get a ticket? Try 5 dollars for an hour or more (depends on where the lot is located). University Hospital is 1.75 per half an hour and it leaves you with a long long long walk to the hospital. If you are lucky to find something close to the door you are looking at 2.25 per half an hour. No need to go to the USA to find outrageous rates, just look to other parts of Canada.

    • Billy maguire
      October 10, 2012 - 11:47

      I live in the USA - Salem, Oregon, to be precise. All our hospitals provide free parking to all. they are also required, by law, to provide free care to those unable to pay or lacking health insurance coverage. All private clinics also provide free parking (I don't know what their status is regarding the uninsured / indigent).

  • J
    October 10, 2012 - 06:43

    I would expect nothing less from Eastern Health in particular and Newfoundland in general. You don't need meters, kiosks or anything else. Put in a pay and display system and hire a traffic warden. This is not rocket science and is done all over the world!!!

  • Anonymous
    October 10, 2012 - 06:31

    Get used to it...that's how it's set up here in Winnipeg and everywhere else and the system works just fine. Why is it that some people just don't like change!!! Get with the times!!

    • Observer
      October 10, 2012 - 10:36

      Parking meters? They've gone the way of the dinosaour in the rest of Canada.. If that system can work so well at Pearson International Airport inside its massive parking garage, surely it can work at the Health Sciences Center if people would just stop and read the instructions on the machines and kiosks. Get with the times indeed!!