Parking in George Town, Penang




          
Parking in George Town can be quite a challenge for people who are unfamiliar. Here's some tips for parking in George Town, if you are planning to drive here from outside Penang. On Penang Island, you will find two types of street parking: those using parking attendants, and those using coin-operated meters. Of these two types, I very much prefer having parking attendants. The main reason is that it is impossible to get fined for parking over time.

Update

From 5 November, 2013, a new parking system using coupons was introduced to replace the use of parking attendants and parking meters. For details about this system, and the location where you can purchase the coupons, go to Penang Coupon Parking System.

In the past: Parking Attendants

In the past, some streets were served by parking attendants. They would carry a sling bag holding their parking receipts, which is in the form of a thick booklet. After you parking your car, you could pay him in advance, and he would issue you a receipt, which he would slip under the windscreen wiper.

In most places in George Town, parking was either 30 sen or 40 sen for every 30 minutes. You could pre-pay for a non-refundable time, or alternatively, you pay according to the amount of time spent when you are ready to leave. As it may be a hassle trying to locate the parking attendant when it's time to leave, I usually pay for about an hour if I happen to see the parking attendant nearby.

If you park your car without pre-paying - often because the parking attendant is nowhere around - when he comes back, he will issue a parking notice, which he has to update every half hour. When you return to retrieve your car, bring the parking notice to him, and he will issue you a receipt according to the amount of time you have parked.


Parking notice, issued by parking attendant to show duration parked (11 December 2008)



Parking receipt, issued by parking attendant after you pay for your parking (11 December 2008)


If the parking attendant is nowhere to be found, you may try to make payment with another attendant - some will be willing to issue you a receipt, but some will not accept the parking notice issued by a different attendant. If you're unable to get the parking paid on the street, the other alternative is to make the payment at the Penang Island City Council (also called Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang, or MBPP) office at Komtar. The counter at the MPPP office on Level 3 will collect your parking fee and issue you a receipt.

If you do not pay your parking within 14 days, the MPPP may issue you a summon, with then will cost you about RM20 to foot. Failure to pay the summons will have a bad impact on locals, as it may prevent us from renewing our road tax the following year.

Parking Meter

Some streets in George Town do not use parking attendants. Instead there are parking meters at regular intervals, usually one for every two parking lots. I find that parking meters are a big hassle. You have to prepare a lot of coins for it. The meters only accept the 10 sen, 20 sen and 50 sen coins. Also, you have to ensure that the meter is fed for a longer period that you are actually parked, for it is goes to zero, you are liable to receive a fine. There are MPPP officers on patrol checking the meters to make sure the parking meters are fed.

Parking meter in Penang (17 December 2008)


Coin slot and timer, parking meter (17 December 2008)


Timetable (17 December 2008)


In most places in the business district of George Town, you need to pay for parking during office hours, which usually runs from 9:00 am in the morning to 5:00 pm in the evening for Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays, parking is charged from 9:00 am in the morning till 1:00 pm in the afternoon. Parking is free after office hours as well as on Sundays and public holidays. In these places, if parking attendant is used, the price is usually 30 sen per half hour while if you find parking meters, it would be 40 sen per half hour (I can never comprehend why it is more expensive with parking meters!)

In some places in Penang, the MPPP rent out the street parking lots to private agents. You can expect to pay more, and for longer periods too, when agents collect parking. In such cases, it is almost always that the parking fee is 40 sen per half hour. That's the max for street parking. However, there will be longer chargeable parking hours, up to 9:00 pm at night in some places, and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays too. These places are usually near to major attractions and hawker centres, where the returns is certain due to patronage outside of office hours.

Parking in Shopping Malls

It is a given thing that parking at shopping malls are a lot more expensive than on the street. Gurney Plaza charges RM1.50 for the first one hour and RM1.00 for every subsequent hour. 1st Avenue Mall charges RM2.00 for the first hour and RM1.00 for every subsequent hour.Queensbay Mall charges a different rate depending on where you park. I usually park on the 5th level, which charges RM1.00 for the first 4 hours (previously it was RM1.00 for unlimited time). Sunshine Square charges RM1.00 for the first 2 hours, waived if you produce a shopping receipt as proof of having done a purchase there. Tesco is one of the places where parking is free.

Updates: Increase in Parking Fee for 2013

27 December, 2012 (The Star): The Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) is considering increasing parking fees in the inner city of George Town as a move to discourage people from parking within the city for long periods at certain places, and to encourage them to carpool to these spots.

Four areas where parking fee is collected until midnight include Gurney Drive, New World Park, Padang Kota Lama and Upper Penang Road. This is to curb illegal parking attendant activities. Vehicles left haphazardly on the road unattended will be clamped or towed.

Opinion of the Present Parking Fee System

In my opinion the entire parking fee system on Penang Island is archaic and should be entirely revamped. The two existing parking methods: using parking meters or parking attendants have their faults. Many parking meters are broken while parking attendants often mischarge people. These two methods should be replaced with one similar those implemented at shopping malls. In addition, the use of Touch 'N Go stored value smart cards for paying parking fees should be introduced.

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