IT WAS supposed to be the short-term answer to Bundaberg Hospital's long-term parking woes - but only a handful of drivers appear to be using the new car park on the old pony club site.
The car park, which has 130 spaces and cost about $230,000 to build, was opened last week after a NewsMail campaign last year helped push Queensland Health into funding the facility.
But the NewsMail visited the car park three times yesterday and, on each occasion, found just six cars taking advantage of the new space.
Street parking on Bourbong St was full and a drive around the parks at the back of the hospital revealed very few unassigned places to be free.
Bundaberg Hospital management has said on a number of occasions that staff would be encouraged to use the new car park to free up Bourbong St spaces for patients and visitors.
Innes Park woman Pauline Fitch said she wished staff were encouraged more to use the car park, but she was also concerned for workers' safety.
"If they finish their shift after dark, it's a long way from the hospital," she said.
The NewsMail understands security workers walk staff on night shift to their car if they cannot get a spot in the car parks reserved for the evening shifts.
Ms Fitch said she felt car parking was an issue across the CBD as a whole.
Gin Gin retiree Joan Clark recalled the problems she faced when parking at the hospital last July.
"I definitely think staff should be encouraged (to park in the new car park)," she said.
"Parking has always been a problem there."
Another man told the NewsMail he had recently been to the hospital and found just three cars using the car park.
A popular suggestion to the NewsMail was for a multistorey park at the hospital, but a number of people hesitated when asked if they would pay to use it.
Bundaberg Hospital operational executive Luke Worth said the Easter break could be blamed in part for the lack of people using the car park.
"The car park was only unofficially opened for use late last week and, as staff return to work, we will be ramping up our promotion of the car park to make sure that they are all aware of this new facility," he said.
"I am confident that over time we will see usage of the staff car park steadily increase."
The car park's entrance is also difficult to find for anyone unfamiliar with the hospital grounds.
"We will also install directional signage to make the car park easier to find," Mr Worth said.
Almost 2800 people signed the NewsMail's petition for more parking options at the hospital.
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