Thirroul parking crush raises safety fears

Commuter parking problems caused by the new train timetable have spilled over into the wider community, with football clubs and school groups having trouble getting access to sporting grounds at Thirroul.

Some junior sport leaders are worried the crowded carparks pose a threat to kids' safety and that this will be compounded once winter sports resume training at Thomas Gibson Park next to Thirroul station.

To ease the squeeze, Wollongong City Council will introduce four-hour limits for six car parking spaces on the eastern side of Thirroul station, next to Thomas Gibson Park.

But for commuters, this will mean less car spaces at a time when more are needed.

Since October's timetable change, fewer trains stop at smaller stations including Austinmer and Bulli, so more commuters drive to Thirroul station.

The result is that almost every parking space near Thirroul station is taken from early morning to evening.

The completely full car park next to Thirroul railway station on the Gibson Park side.

Thirroul Junior Football Club president Lindsay Hodda said it was now impossible to find a parking space at the sporting ground for soccer training.

"It has changed, definitely," he said.

"Once our season starts, we have people training from about 3pm - and the car park is full until 6pm. We've got over 500 players and 50 teams, plus training Monday to Friday from 3pm."

Mr Hodda said a major new parking station was needed next to the station.

Thirroul Junior Rugby League Club president Wayne Cooke said he was concerned for kids' safety if parents dropped them off across the road from the football field.

"It's not just difficult, it's dangerous," he said.

"We've got 300 kids just in the rugby league club. The parking situation around the station was absurd before the timetable changes."

Wollongong City Council's car parking committee voted at its December meeting to introduce four-hour limits for six spaces near the park after finding the spaces were taken by commuters who parked for 10-12 hours at a time, impeding access for visiting teams and school groups.

The Mercury understands the time limits on the six spaces will be implemented after the minutes of the parking committee are finalised this month.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said the new timetable "delivers faster services for South Coast customers and improved clockface stopping patterns".

He said any upgrades, including additional parking, will be considered under the next round of Transport Access Program upgrades.

Lindsay Hodda from Thirroul Junior  Football Club. Pictures: KIRK GILMOUR

Lindsay Hodda from Thirroul Junior Football Club. Pictures: KIRK GILMOUR

In November, Heathcote MP Lee Evans said he had lobbied for parking upgrades for the station.


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