Motorists who commute to Prague have long gotten used to being able to park for free in parts of Prague 5 and 6 nearest the city centre. As of this Wednesday, that has changed. Blue zones prepared months ago have now come into effect – reserving parking largely for paying residents.
If you’re a resident in the districts of Prague 5 and 6 with a car, the answer was fairly simple: to fill-in an application at a local bureau and pay 1,200 crowns to park for a year. But for commuters from suburbs or towns further afield finding a free spot to leave their car in the capital has just become much more difficult. Savvy motorists, who knew of reliable free parking in parts of Hradčany in Prague 6, a stone’s throw from the Castle and the historic centre, will now have to leave their cars elsewhere. For them the news isn’t all bad: they will be able to park even in blue zones for up to three hours provided they pay by text message.
On the whole, though, Prague is hoping that the majority of drivers will instead opt for a different solution: rather than driving into the city centre, to leave their cars at parking areas on the periphery or even in neighbouring towns connected by public transport. Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek outlined the possibilities:
“People can drive to Kladno, park, and then travel the rest of the way to Prague using public transport. You can do the same in Slaný, Rakovník, or Chomutov. All of those towns have fast connections to Prague.”
Not all are impressed with the blue zones being introduced: satellite towns in particular, argue that Prague is only shunting the problem off on them: instead of the capital, they will now be clogged by incoming traffic. Tomáš Novotný is the deputy mayor of Roztoky, bordering Prague 6:
“We are afraid that our own municipality will now be swamped by motorists parking their cars here now that they can no longer park in Dejvice in Prague 6. This is a long-term problem and a real concern.”
Arguably, many residents of Prague districts 5 & 6 probably wouldn’t have minded had things been left alone and no zones introduced as they will have to pay annually for the right to park in front of their homes or nearby. One aspect that has been welcomed, now that the zones are in place, is that at least they only count during the work week. Friends or relatives can visit and park there safely, without fear of a ticket or towing – at the weekend.