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Most Hungarians Do Not Benefit from Free Parking

D&T
June 5, 2020

Parking in public areas in Hungary has been free – by government decree – since April 5. Although, the government justified the measure by saying that this would make public transport vehicles less crowded, only a small percentage of people seem to benefit from it, according to a new survey.

Making parking free is one of the government’s controversial measures at the time of the epidemic emergency situation. While the cabinet justified the move by wanting to reduce congestion on public transport, several municipalities saw political motivation behind the decision as they were deprived of this income while they have extra expenses due to the epidemic, Napi.hu writes.

While there have been people for whom free parking has given the opportunity not to have to opt for riskier public transport, they are a minority. Many people use their car because it was a better financial option (not having to pay for parking), and an even larger group includes those who basically don't care whether they have to pay for parking or not, says a representative poll conducted by Pulzus Research on behalf of Napi.hu.

Only 9% of those polled said that they use their car for fear of crowded public transport (in pandemic times) and they do so because they do not have to pay for parking. 12% said it is now worth using a car, meaning they do it for financial reasons. For a quarter of the people (24%), free parking is not a factor. Presumably, they are the ones who would have entered the toll zone even if the government had not decided on making parking free.

Although, Balázs Fürjes, state secretary in charge of Budapest’s development on behalf of the government, cited figures – four days after the government decree – that the measure did not significantly increase traffic in Budapest, András Lukács, the head of the environmentalist Clean Air Action Group has called for an end to free parking in the capital as soon as possible. He said in an interview four days ago that, due to the free parking option, a lot of people use their cars who would not have done so otherwise, which is why locals can hardly find a parking space in the inner parts of the city, so they are forced to drive around for a long time before parking, increasing the level of pollution.

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