A week or so ago an article in the NZ Herald completely misinterpreted the results of an analysis into parking costs around the world – saying that Auckland had some of the most expensive parking: when in actual fact parking costs for short-term parking were extremely low, while parking for monthly reserved spaces were slightly above average: 41st out of around 120 cities from memory.
Today the Herald makes the same stupid mistakes again – slamming Auckland Transport for raising the cost of its ‘early bird parking’ by a mere one dollar a day.
Price rises at council-owned carparks have come a week after an international study found Auckland one of the most expensive places to park in the world.
Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter confirmed that the early bird rate at the Civic, Victoria St and Downtown carparks has increased by $1, bringing the all-day parking charge to $13.
I work in the city and can’t help but often notice the advertised early-bird parking prices at various points around the city. Most of the privately owned parking buildings seem to have early-bird prices of around $14-17 a day in the heart of the CBD, with the prices obviously falling away in more peripheral areas like around Tank Farm. The following data from Auckland Transport confirms this:
This would suggest that the Council (through Auckland Transport) is already subsidising the price of parking. Considering that the price of parking is a major determinant of whether people use public transport, and Auckland Council/Auckland Transport want to increase PT patronage, it is utterly insane for them to provide parking at a price below market rates.
The AA, with its usual ignorance, chimes in:
Automobile Association spokesman Simon Lambourne said increasing the prices for all-day parking would encourage commuters to park in inner-city suburban streets.
“Ill-considered, ad-hoc measures can have a significant impact on the wider city and region to the detriment of Auckland. We really need to step back before these measures are done.”
It seems pretty ill-considered to me to have subsidised below-market parking rates encouraging people to clog up the roads and discouraging public transport patronage (which reduces its commercial viability leading to more requirement for subsidies).
Heart of the City head Alex Swney hits the nail on the head – noting that early-bird prices in general seem completely nonsensical:
Mr Swney said parking was an “emotive issue” but early bird parking only encouraged further congestion.
“What it says is, ‘Get in your car when it is most congested and we will reward you with cheap parking’.”
But he said the increases in parking would affect only commuters – not shoppers.
I remember back in about 2002 occasionally paying for earlybird parking in the Victoria Street carpark – then operated by Auckland City Council. I am sure that the price then was either $12 or $13 a day – meaning that it hasn’t increased in almost a decade!
Later on the article continues to get things wrong:
Last week, the Colliers International global parking rate survey found Aucklanders are charged some of the highest parking fees in the world.
Motorists in Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Singapore – among many others – pay less.
Auckland rated in the top third, putting it ahead of many capital cities including Washington DC, Ottawa, Berlin and Beijing.
No it did not say that for the type of parking that we’re talking about here: earlybird. It said that monthly reserved parking spaces were more expensive than the cities listed above, but that for non-reserved parking spaces Auckland’s prices were relatively cheap: no doubt related to the fact that Auckland Transport’s current low prices are dragging the market down.
Normally I am not a particularly big fan of asset sales, but in the case of the parking buildings I would be more than happy to see them sold off. Not only would this help generate some useful short-term revenue, but it would mean that we would no longer end up in stupid situations where political pressure is being put on to keep parking prices artificially low, encouraging people to drive during peak times, clogging up our roads and undermining public transport.