6 June 2024

'Begging for slashed tyres' - what happens if you get stuck at this Thirroul commuter carpark?

| Dione David
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Thirroul train station informal commuter carpark

Parking at this informal Thirroul carpark is causing headaches. Photo: Facebook.

Among offers and requests for moving boxes and found pet notices, etiquette at a certain carpark in Thirroul has long attracted intense social media dialogue among commuters in the northern suburb of Wollongong.

While there are four Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE)-owned and Transport for NSW-managed commuter carparks located off Thirroul’s Station Street, Railway Parade and Church Street, an “informal” carpark abutting Woodward Memorial Park has been at the centre of parking problems for commuters.

In 2013 a revised timetable introduced multiple express services skipping stations around Thirroul during peak times, making it a hub for Sydney Trains’ South Coast (SCO) Line.

Northern suburbs commuters quickly fill both sides of this gravelly lot with minimal trouble, despite the lack of signage and line markings. However when vehicles park down the centre of this arrangement, commuters who’ve been blocked in take to Facebook community pages to denounce the “entitled” behaviour.

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“Hey what starts with J and rhymes with Merc? Thanks for the terrible park in the station. Blocked my wife in. Really appreciate it,” one post on Thirroul Living read.

Suggestions from the community range from reporting it to Transport NSW, Wollongong City Council or NSW Police to more vigilante solutions.

“The only thing that is missing in this picture is flat tyres and broken windows,” one reply read.

“Someone begging for slashed tyres,” another read.

“Push a key into the middle of the tyre valve as a reminder to not be selfish.”

Others beg the question – with no set spaces or signage – what, if any, are the rules in this commuter carpark and who enforces them?

The answer is more complex than most people would realise.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the vast majority of the parking area belonged to and was the responsibility of Wollongong City Council.

“A small portion on the western side belongs to the Transport Asset Holding Entity and has been leased to the council since 1 April 1993,” they said.

“The embankment which runs along the rail corridor is owned by TAHE as part of Sydney Trains rail operations.”

In 2022, Thirroul was one of nine locations considered as part of the NSW TrainLink Carpark Uplift Program – ROM Stimulus program but was not funded.

Transport for NSW said initial conversations around the possibility of a formal carpark at the site took place between council and Sydney Trains but lapsed due to funding.

A Wollongong City Council spokesperson confirmed that in 2022, the council worked with Sydney Trains (Transport for NSW) on a design for the southern carpark – a project they say was led by Sydney Trains.

“Feedback from Sydney Trains was that the construction funding lapsed,” the spokesperson said.

“Council values the carpark as a commuter carpark for the Thirroul community and we would support the implementation of this design.

“Lawrence Hargrave Drive is a NSW Government road at this location, and that means final sign-off for the design would come from TfNSW.”

Transport for NSW told Region that while the council may apply for funding from Transport for NSW and would need to work with TAHE, any future development of the site would fall with the council as the primary landowners.

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In the meantime, it appears commuters are welcome to park at the site, but do so at their own risk.

Transport for NSW transport officers can only issue infringement notices to vehicles illegally parked in designated Transport for NSW commuter carparks.

“As this is an informal carpark with no line markings, compliance is managed by NSW Police. If people experience issues, it would be a matter for NSW Police,” a council spokesperson said.

When asked for comment, NSW Police told Region, “This is a council matter, not a police matter.”

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