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.