Jelsa’s car park has moved with the times. Changes come at a cost. An expensive cost.
The car park is run by Jelsa Plus d.o.o., a Council company with various functions relating to the Councii’s public spaces.
The layout of the car park has been much improved this year, not least because a neat arrangement of logical, clearly marked parallel parking spaces has replaced the previous confusing mixture of diagonal lines which reflected two different (competing) successive versions of how cars might line up. Trees have been planted, which presumably will provide a bit of summertime shade at some future time. When first planted, a few trees fell victim to careless parking, as they had no protection, and drivers were still parking according to the two previous systems, without concern for the new additions to the parking landscape. But now, several months on, the parking spaces seem to be working well, and the trees are surviving.
A few years ago, a payment machine was introduced to try to ease congestion at the exit to the car park. The machine, pictured above, was a bit of a mystery to all concerned, so it was not used very much. Most people preferred to pay the person in the kiosk.
Then the machine was updated to boast a protective rooflet, clear instructions in Croatian and English, and a twin as backup in case of need. The title Cashier rings a little oddly, given its usual meaning of a person who deals with money transactions, but still, the message is clear enough. Payment by visitors: hold your parking ticket, obtained from the machine at the entrance to the car park, against the lighted panel (bottom right on the machine). Local residents who have a discounted parking card do the same with the card.
Next step, insert money, with separate slots for paper money and coins. What can possibly go wrong? Well, very often, the machine spits the money back for no obvious reason. It may take a lot of coaxing to accept it, especially paper money. Feeding the note in from above sometimes works, but it’s not guaranteed.
Once the money has been swallowed up, there’s one final step: press the button to the top right of the machine (under the word ‘KRAJ’) to mark the end of the transaction. This should produce a receipt from the green slot in the lower part of the machine.
Having paid, the visitor should leave as quickly as possible, because any undue delay will invalidate the payment.
For residents, the machine provides a top-up of credit on the card. Except when it doesn’t. Occasionally the machine fails to credit the full payment to the card. Correction has to be done manually. One luckier soul reported that the machine dished out double the credit paid for. I believe he didn’t apply to correct the error.
This year a new refinement was added to the car park facilities: a rubbish bin. As it has never been seen before in this context, it seems some people still have difficulty in understanding what this new-fangled gadget is for.
Not a problem when there are public-spirited people around to help keep the place clean. But how much better it would be if adults and children used the bins properly!
For several years the access to the car park was guarded by a kiosk, complete with air conditioning and a television for staff comfort. The kiosk was fully manned when the car park charging times were in force, so there was always a staff member to take visitors’ payments, and to help out with problems from the payment machine or residents’ cards. Not any longer. In 2016, the kiosk was moved to one side of the car park, and is now, in the off-season, only manned for part of the day. Mechanization holds sway. What happens if the payment machine refuses to accept payment, or fails to credit it, when there’s no human there to make it play ball? It’s limited, as ‘cashiers’ go. How does one get out? I put these questions to Petar, the car park attendant. It’s a problem, he replied, with an air of quiet acceptance.
Meanwhile, parking has become more expensive. In the past, after the end of the tourist season, parking was free for at least part of the winter. The payment machine would go into storage, seasonal staff were laid off and the permanent staff would be deployed to other duties. Not any longer. The car park is now charging year-round, even though it is not fully manned. Residents have the option of paying an annual fee, or simply adding credit to their card as needed. As parking has become significantly more costly, paying 500 kunas for a year suddenly seemed an attractive proposition, especially as it would cut out any worry about the machine refusing to recognize the colour of one’s money. Except that it is not ther same option any more. Inquiring at the end of 2016 for an annual ticket for 2017, I was told that Jelsa Plus are proposing to raise the annual fee to 750 kunas, a 50% rise. The increase has yet to be approved by the Mayor. When will that happen? Sometime in January. But the fee runs from January 1st to the end of the year. Will they be charging in full for an incomplete year? With Mayoral elections coming up soon, this proposition is in no way a vote-winner…
© Vivian Grisogono 2016