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The cost of parking

There was an article in the NZ Herald yesterday about the price of parking in the city centre. This is always a pretty sensitive issue as nobody likes paying for parking, leading to some rather interesting statements.

New Zealanders living in the country’s largest cities are paying up to $32 more for casual private parking than those in smaller towns.

In Auckland, the private carpark company duopoly of Tournament and Wilson have come under pressure to lower their rates to match the council’s.

Four hours’ casual parking at one of Tournament’s sites in Auckland’s CBD costs $32 ($4 per half hour) – the same as the carpark’s daily rate. And in Wellington, the same amount of time costs $40 ($5 per half hour).

But in Dunedin, four hours costs only $8 at a rate of $2 an hour.

Well duh of course parking in Auckland will be more expensive than in Dunedin – because there’s much greater demand in Auckland and probably a much higher willingness to pay for parking. The price of parking in Sydney would probably make our eyes water, I imagine the same is true in London and other very large cities.

And of course trust Cameron Brewer to enter into the discussion:

Mr Brewer, chairman of the Business Advisory Panel, said the council had “done well” to reduce its charges in its three main parking buildings in the central city.

On November 19, Auckland Transport made its first changes to pricing since 2005. The change was part of an effort to steer people away from on-street parking for long periods in the central city and towards parking buildings.

Parking in the city after 6pm used to be free but the start time is now 10pm. Auckland Transport also reduced the peak casual hourly rate from $5.50 for the first two hours and $4 or $5 per hour thereafter to $3 an hour in the Civic, Downtown and Victoria St carparks. A daily maximum charge of $17 replaced the old maximum of $29.

“However if the private providers keep ramping theirs up, they run counter to the mayor’s vision of creating a world-class city centre. They will only put people off the CBD,” Mr Brewer said.

Along with most others on the blog, I was reasonably supportive of the parking changes – especially as on-street parking will eventually be charged in a way that relates to the level of demand in that area. I also think that short-stay parking in the city centre has been over-priced in the past (and long-stay under-priced) leading to daft outcomes like people being better off if they drove into the city at peak times to take advantage of the cheap earlybird pricing. Also from observation the price of earlybird parking hasn’t actually changed particularly much in the past decade, probably reflecting a decline in the number of vehicles entering the city during peak times.

And some interesting points are made by Tournament Parking:

Tournament’s national business manager, Matt Ryan, said the “huge disparity” in pricing across the country was due to demand on parking resources.

“In saying that, the carparking market across the main centres is actually very competitive … so the reality is that if a parking company prices too high, customers will walk.”

Mr Ryan said the Auckland Council’s plan had become “very focused on short-term parkers in an attempt to increase patronage in the CBD”.

“We applaud this move as it is breathing more life into the CBD. However their strategy does not appear to provide any recourse for daily commuters who actually comprise most CBD parkers.

“The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.”

Mr Ryan said more than 85 per cent of Tournament’s daily parkers pay Early Bird rates which are cheaper than Auckland Council’s daily rate of $17.

There’s an interesting dynamic in the parking business where declining demand (due to better public transport) will probably lead them to lower parking prices, potentially attracting people back from public transport to using their car. Hopefully Auckland Transport (who operate the council’s parking buildings) will remove themselves from the commuter parking business in the not too distant future so they stop undermining the public transport we’re subsidising and also so they can focus on short-stay parking which actually provides some economic benefit through encouraging shoppers into the central city. In the longer run it would probably be good for Auckland Transport to get out of the off-street parking business completely and leave it to the private market as there doesn’t seem to be too much public benefit in having them involved.

Finally, most of the sites managed by Tournament Parking are absolute blights on the cityscape so hopefully over time those sites get redeveloped while the declining number of car commuters into town will mean these aren’t replaced.

15 comments to The cost of parking

  • Paul in Sydney

    And even worse Sydney Airport, I think I spent AUD $29 yesterday for under 2 hours at the domestic terminal. There’s a monopoly for you. (And we still have to go back because all flights where canceled for South East Queensland, weather!)

  • Luke E

    “Customers will walk”. That’s a highly amusing statement. Really he should say ‘drive elsewhere’, or is he advoacting people using alternative modes of transport? Haha.

  • Devils advocate time :D
    Popping my head in here after my Twitter and Facebook remarks I would have to be somewhat “brave.” However while I shall reply to my remarks sometime today (or tomorrow) – actually no I can answer it right here below and it seems to (in my eyes) reinforce the point I made that caught the attention of a few here.

    I have noticed the quotes quoted above but the most prominent one has been missed – which was an statement from Mr Ryan which gives further weight to the argument of his quoted above:

    “”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.”

    Whether increasing rates or not is playing around with stats and something I am not interested in for this part of the debate. Mr Ryan has stated (could be that it is an admission) what is basically the truth of the current situation we face in the CBD. Heck I can vouch for that on more than one occasion both when working for a public transport company (now self employed) or having to go to the CBD for say the Unitary Plan forums last year. With work in a particular transport company, the position I was in often required me to start or finish outside of public transport hours, so that meant having my parking paid for and a trip in and out of the CBD from Papakura.

    The other case was The Unitary Plan forums last year at Town Hall. I had a choice; train or car. I took the car from Papakura to the CBD, parked, attended the forums and went back home again. Why? Because I am a liberal and “operate” in a way that is sensitive to price and time considerations against me. That means I will choose an option that is the least expensive, the most efficient, the easiest to complete, and most efficient in relation to time spent travelling – when about to undertake my travels.

    And so all costs (including time and money) considered it was the car that was used as it filled the criteria above when making my travels (and no I don’t like being coerced either into one option when it is more expensive than the other)

    So that meant travelling up and down State Highway One and parking in the AT Civic Parking Building – because to use the train took double the time and 1.3x the cost as it would of by car (and also I think the main forum was on a Saturday which drops the trains to Papakura every half hour to boot)

    So I can clearly hear what Mr Ryan is saying in his: “”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.” remarks.

    He knows and I know that until P/T is improved (and yes I would assume safely that he knows it is being improved constantly) this is the reality of the situation.

    If you want me to extend this argument to a more fuller comprehensive situation then lets look at a few comments in Facebook

    Again in regards to Cameron Brewers remarks and link to THAT Herald article

    We paid $24 for just over an hour, at the parking building across from the gallery. Yes, we could have taken the train in – but the Orakei car park is full by 0800. Incidentally, one of the reason’s Liability Len’s inner city loop will fail to achieve the necessary patronage is the lack of suburban car parks.

    Yep – can vouch for that when the Papakura Park and Ride is full.

    However this comment lead me to this which has obviously caught the attention of a few here via Twitter and Facebook

    That is correct —-. The rail situation is compounded by the following (and excuse me if I am repeating)
    1) Lack of Park and Rides especially at the big stations
    2) Lack of feeder buses
    3) Lack of cycle lockers
    4) Stations in the wrong place

    Now all this I am trying to bring to AT’s attention next week at the RPTP hearings (wish me luck there) but until then what Mr Ryan said is true and absolute reality

    Mr Ryan has hit it right on the money – and it is the truth – not that Transport Blog would ever recognise it:
    “”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.”

    The article can be found here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10861778

    You can figure out what would of caught the attention from the above remark (which was made before the post here went up).

    If you are trying to understand the “logic” in the quip then sorry not going to explain here – catch up over a coffee, soy latte or an iced drink if you want to understand me and it.

    However to me and others I share conversations with it shows the situation which Mr Ryan has stated but Transport Blog did not pick up on (and if so not well enough). This is especially that one could interpret Mr Ryan’s remarks on a read between the lines support in getting p/t to be better (and most likely (if fleshed out fully) as part of a fully integrated transport system – public and private)

    Look I would love for the CBD to be free of parking buildings but our P/T system has a very long way to go before that could either be viable. So for now and to me – CBD parking buildings – the necessary “evil”

    • Mr Anderson

      What a strange comment. I think that the key point of the post was disputing the assumption made in the Herald article that parking was getting more expensive.

      Not sure what you think was missed. The “PT needs to improve” bit was quoted.

    • harrymc

      BR:AKL_Admin01
      Your comments are obviously thoughtful and you appear reasonably well educated. Why do you use the grammatical nonsense of “would of”?
      It is “would have”. It has come about because people hear “would’ve” and think it is “would of” – it is not.
      It really grates and detracts from your comments.

  • Increasing PT use lowering the demand for parking? Sounds like an awesome outcome. I hope those car parks get redeveloped into more productive land use.

  • Anthony McBride

    I remember when we visited Brisbane in 2002 and we decided to visit a mall. There was a parking building nearby so we parked in there. We should have asked for the prices as there were no parking prices throughout the building except for the exit right where you pay. It wasn’t until 8 hours later that when we left that we found out the prices was $27 per HALF HOUR. Call the ambulance before you count it up…..

    • John Smith

      Legally a parking garage should have the prices & conditions displayed at the entrance in such a way that you can refuse the offer. If the conditions are posted in a position such as next to a boom gate where you cannot avoid entering, it should include advice that if you don’t agree you may enter and proceed immediately to the exit without charge.

      I think this is the Australian position anyway.

      • Haha like the car park at Ponsonby Central “first hour free”- it says only in very small print that you need to take a ticket from the machine. Result $45 fine for not paying. Won’t be going back there.

  • Malcolm M

    Melbourne City council maintain a couple of parking buildings, and have a policy of favouring short-term parking. It would be foolish of Auckland City council to divest theirs to the private sector, who will most likely get 85% of their business from “early-bird” commuters. The parking industry must know that their income from commuters is much more consistent than from the short-termers who only come on “busy” days..

  • John Smith

    It’s a market.

    Poor public transport = more demand for parking = higher price for parking.
    Better public transport = less demand for parking = lower price for parking. And/or redevelopment of ugly parking garages for other uses.

    If it is your habit to drive to the central business district, you should be agitating for better public transport as this will put downward pressure on the price of your parking spot.

  • Torbayite

    Brother in law catches train for 100 Pounds for a 2 hour trip to London sometimes. One reason is parking for the day in Chelsea is 38 pounds so London is more expensive than Auckland.

  • Luke C

    Maybe a quick google will solve things. Choosing a random Sydney CBD carpark from Wilsons I get this:
    0 – 30 mins $9.00
    30 mins – 1 hour $29.00
    1 – 2 hours $59.00
    2 – 3 hours $69.00
    3 + hours $79.00
    Maximum $79.00

    Auckland casual parking expensive, no way!
    Earlybird is $24 though which seems cheap.

  • I’m awaiting the herald to point out that you can park for a week at the Dunedin airport for $50, as close as 15m away from the terminal door…
    Or better yet, Nelson, which until recently had no charge for long term parking at the airport!

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