Auckland Transport have announced that the price of parking in their city centre carparks will be changing. Currently their Downtown, Civic and Victoria Street car parking buildings have an hourly cost of $3 which is capped at $17 for the day. They also have evening rates of $2 per hour capped at $7.50 for the Downtown and Victoria St buildings and $8 for the Civic building. The reason for the different cap for the Civic building is it more frequently fills up from events.
The hourly charges aren’t changing but from 1 August AT will increase the caps at the three carparks. The changes are:
- The day rate in the Downtown, Civic and Victoria Street car parking buildings will increase from $17 to $24.
- Evening and maximum rates: Civic: Flat fee of $12 (post 6pm). Victoria and Downtown: Increase from $7.50 to $10.
The rationale for the changes is below
- Historically AT has subsidised people to drive into the city at peak times, which is adding to congestion.
- AT is continuing to move towards the customer pays for their stay approach. This replicates AT’s central city on-street parking approach
- Our prices are increasing further to dis-incentivise people from driving during one of the busiest times of the day (am peak).
- AT anticipates this move will free up some peak hour occupancy in its off-street parking facilities while continuing to provide for short stay users encouraging turn-over and availability
- The removal of the Early Bird option in December 2014 has not had the desired impact in changing customer behaviour. A further step is needed to assist in modal shift behaviour from cars to public transport, walking or cycling.
- Additional note: AT has a small percentage of off street car parking spaces in the central city and region wide. Downtown: 1937 spaces. Civic: 939 spaces. Victoria Street car park: 888 spaces.
On that last point, the chart below just how few carparks AT has compared to what else is in the city centre. In addition there’s likely to be significant increases in carpark supply over the coming years from new developments – the biggest of which is the new Convention Centre for which SkyCity want to add over 1,400 spaces. A number of other developments are adding 200-300 carparks each.
I suspect there could be one more reason why AT are pushing this now and that’s related to the CRL. Starting later this year AT start the enabling works which will see the CRL tunnels dug along Albert St as far as Wyndham St (actually tunnelling won’t begin till next year). This is going to cause immense disruption to buses and cars and as such it makes sense to try and reduce that as much as possible. Shifting more people to public transport is one way of get more capacity out of the transport system. I guess if you think about incentivising change as a case of using carrots and sticks, this change represents AT using a bigger stick.
Of course none of these facts are likely to matter to those who use the carparks and I expect there will be howls of outrage about the change – in fact I’d be surprised if it hasn’t yet been picked up by the likes of the Herald (I wrote this on Sunday). I suspect that in particular they’ll come under attack for being so honest about their desire to get more people out of their cars and using public transport. The reality is that’s kind of been happening for a long time now.
Data from the council’s annual Screenline Survey shows that from 2001-2014 all of the growth in trips to the city centre in the AM peak has come by way of public transport and most of that via the Rapid Transit Network (Rail and Busway). The number of people driving has actually declined slightly. Unfortunately despite the survey being conducted annually since the 1980’s we don’t have any data for 2015 as the council stopped it in a bid to cut costs. Hopefully AT will find a way to replicate the survey with data from systems like HOP and traffic counters as it provides an incredibly useful measure as to how various initiatives are working.