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Shoppers reported being stuck in a shopping centre car park for up to three hours in Sydney's Hills district after blocked exits struggled to cope with the Christmas rush.
Last-minute gift shopping became significantly more stressful for Castle Towers customers on Tuesday when they returned to their cars to find long queues and lengthy delays across the multi-level car park.
Castle Towers management called in local police to help ease congestion at the Castle Hill complex, with officers at the car park guiding traffic through busy intersections.
One customer told 2GB that some shoppers had opted to leave their cars at the centre and catch taxis home to avoid the excessive delays.
One woman, who said she was calling from her car, told the 2GB drive program that she had moved about five metres in about an hour.
3 hours to get out of the castle towers car park... Stoked I finished Christmas shopping ages ago.— Uncle Bully (@TokenPakeha) December 22, 2015
Another shopper, Leanne, called 2GB just before 6pm and told the host she had been stuck in the car park for almost three hours.
"I got into the car at the roof of Castle Towers at six minutes past three and I'm still in the car park," she said.
"Castle Towers has absolutely no excuse for their shoppers who spent thousands of dollars in the centre before being expected to sit in a car park for over three hours," she said.
Leanne said a lady two cars ahead of her had children in the car who were car sick because they had been sitting in the car for so long.
"I am looking at them and they are sick. We are actually begging people on the lower levels to let us through so we can get out," she said.
An hour and a half to get out of Castle Towers car park??? Don't get that problem at Rouse Hill Town Centre do you @DymocksRHill ?— Jay Dwight (@JayD1313) December 22, 2015
Nearby roadworks caused by the construction of the north-west rail link may have contributed to the congestion, 7 News reported.
Police at the Hills Local Area Command warned customers of "extensive delays for patrons leaving Castle Towers".
"Some members of the public have had to wait up to an 1.5 hours before they could leave ... due to large numbers of shoppers and cars, extensive delays will continue," the local LAC posted on Facebook.
Castle Towers Centre Manager Martin Ollis said the centre had implemented a number of measures to "assist with traffic management".
"During the final days of the popular Christmas trading period the surrounding roads are busy, and Castle Towers Management is doing everything they [sic] can at this time to ensure that our customers can enter and exit the centre in a timely and safe manner," Mr Ollis said in a statement.
He said police officers were stationed at key car park locations from 19 December and security personnel would also help control traffic flow at entrances and exits.