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.

CBD Parking Supply

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.

CBD Transport Change CBD Transport Change #

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70 comments

  1. I’ll be interested to see whether the price increase affects demand for car parking in the city fringe. The earlybird here in Newmarket is $8. Will people choose to park in Newmarket and bus to CBD?

  2. I am not against increasing carpark costs to reduce people driving, but it HAS to be in conjunction with an improvement in public transport speeds as well.

    When I was working in the CBD, I could leave my home (central-west suburb) at 0550, driving, and be in the gym by 0615 – that’s including parking and walking from park to gym. Driving home finishing at 1600 I was usually home by 1635. When I took the bus, I had the choice of either walking 1.2km at 0530 to another bus stop to make the gym by 0615 or not arriving before 0635 (leaving the house at 0550). The bus home took, on average, 50-odd minutes. So every day I was losing at minimum 40 minutes of time.

    I’d have willingly traded my $250/month carpark for the bus, IF THE BUS HAD BEEN FAST ENOUGH. And that’s the same issue here – we are driving people out of their carparks (all good!) by pricing it so high, but we are also COSTING them time from public transport. I think it would have been a great idea to introduce new carpark charging at the same time as we rolled out Auckland’s new bus network in 2016.

    Carrot AND stick.

    1. No ones stopping you driving in, but the true cost of that choice shouldn’t continue to be subsidised to the extent it has been.

        1. Awesome, then we can put that space to higher value activities like retail or commercial, even hospitality! The fact is car parking is highly subsidised, and now there are valid options. One thing with PT and your travelling patterns above, your not taking into account productive time spent on PT. Going through emails, writing that report etc. you can’t in peak time due to capacity (rubbing shoulders, standing), but you can also add an extra hour to your travel time if driving through peak.

        2. If car parking is so heavily subsidized how come private companies make such a fortune out of it? Where do these ideas come from?

        3. That’s better than empty office floors because businesses don’t want to put up with parking costs any more, so they go to the suburbs.

      1. And PT isn’t subsidized? The anti car brigade at it again. The money being spent on PT and the CRL is not peanuts. How about PT users pay what it really costs? Or is that view not allowed?

        1. From everywhere, just about every service to the city centre at peak times is commercially operated by the private operators without subsidy. They make a lot of profit of serving city commuters.

        2. My guess is both driving and PT are subsidized, but subsidizing PT is cheaper than subsidizing driving.

    2. There are a lot of improvements that could be made to the bus services to make them a lot quicker. I used to find it frustrating how much longer the bus took to get to the city in dedicated bus lanes than it would take to drive in congested traffic lanes. A good start would be:

      – Get rid of half the bus stops
      – Further encourage HOP use. Ban cash sales during peak hours.
      – Increase bus lane hours (currently finished by 6PM or even 5:30)
      – Have more and bigger entrance doors on buses (you don’t have to walk past the driver to board the train, why are buses different?)
      – Complete bus lanes for the whole journey, not just where it suits
      – A more direct route to the main destination instead of zig-zagging around to pick up a few extra people
      – More stops in the city (e.g. my bus only went to mid town, you have to walk to downtown)

    3. I totally agree. I commute to the CBD via the bus, but the network doesn’t have nearly the frequency to suit everyone. While its fine for me to wait fifteen minutes at the stop, waiting for my service, the same can’t be said for a parent who has to drop off children at school before leaving for work. AT needs to improve the network massively to make a real dent in the number of CBD commuters who get there by car.

  3. Someone explain to me again how the cost efficiencies of the super city are benefiting us?
    I seem to have problems remembering

    1. I think you’re muddling up what cost efficiency and subsidy mean. Improving efficiency quite rightly means reducing subsidies such as underpriced car parking, and getting a better return from extremely valuable inner city land, with the added benefit of increasing the efficiency and ROI on investments in PT and other transport modes. The super city wasn’t set up to raise money and use it to make driving cheaper.

    2. Higher parking costs reduces your and my rates. I like that efficiency, thanks. I am not keen on subsidising people wanting to drive to the busiest part of our city during the busiest hours.

        1. Ask Wilsons. Money for jam. No maintenance, no warranties, minimal overhead. One of the smartest investments you could ever make. If the land could be better used for easier profits it would be. Do this blogs contributor’s have no commercial inklings?

        2. Wilsons don’t make money from parking, they use parking as a holding activity while they make money on landbanking. The parking itself loses money.

          It’s the same with AT, if they don’t sell the land they lose money on parking, so the ratepayer subsidises people to park. It’s a long standing policy from the days where they were terrified nobody would come to the city centre again.

  4. I think you give the Herald too much credit. A man who entered a shark’s environment for recreational purposes but didn’t get eaten, and a crotch shot tweet seem to be more important at the moment.

      1. Can you blame them? Prices for boring things like car parking change all the time (or at least, should). Sharks – now that’s news.

  5. This will kill the hospitality business at night hours and people won’t easily find road side parking.

    I agree we should should encourage people to use more PT.

    However the current PT service for night time is not frequent and do not operate late enough.

    AT should keep night rate low until the CRL is completed and has a very efficient night PT timetables

    1. So a $2.50 increase in all evening parking is going to kill the city? Even if we ignore all the parking that is completely free around the city this is a tiny and meangingless increase. Further, it may surprise you but half the people arriving in the city during the day arrive by PT any way, and there’s a huge resident population who walk. If you feel the offering at suburban malls where your parking is combined into your purchases is competitive with what is available in the central city – where parking is charged separately – then feel free to vote with your wheels.

    2. It will just encourage people to keep looking at road parking at night time, adding more congestion.

      Honestly, if people spend $20 on food and have to spend $10 on parking. People will just go somewhere else to eat, such as Mt eden, ponsonby or dominion road.

      1. So if you think increasing charges will increase congestion, what do you think will happen to congestion if parking was made cheaper?

        1. My point is not to argue cheaper parking encourage driving.
          My point is people who decided to drive will be discouraged to park in the buildings. So they try to circle around streets to find an empty street parking spot. If many cars are doing the same, it just adds a lot of traffic and frustration.

        2. Why would you try to park on the street? The street’s still more expensive, $4/hr instead of $3/hr, and you have to guess how long you need in advance, instead of just paying for what you use. On those rare occasions I drive into town for a long time (typically nights or weekends), I always use the AT buildings. They’re still far and away the cheapest option, even at the new price. Wilson charge twice as much – $6/hr, and a way higher cap except for earlybird commuter parking.

        3. Unless you park during the day on weekdays, on-street parking is much cheaper even than the AT parking buildings.

          First, after the evening peak, parking on street is free, while you still have to pay for the parking buildings. And second, that $4 per hour is only for the blue zone in weekdays. The yellow and green zones are $1 per hour on Saturday, and on free on Sunday.

          But that being said, I’m too lame to circle around for parking so I tend to park in the parking building anyway. Unfortunately I’m charged a convenience fee(*) for that.


          (*) I didn’t invent that term, I’ve actually seen companies using that term for online bookings.

      2. Kelvin, or people can spend a couple of bucks on a Transit journey and more on food and drink. With the side benefit that they won’t kill anyone with their car driving home after a few drinks.

        1. Or I can spend an extra half an hour waiting for the buses which are still relatively infrequent (every hour past 730 where I live). The other option is to not bother and just go somewhere else where I can park for free. I’m not entirely sure why they’ve lifted the evening rate at the Civic, was people really going to the movies at 8pm a big factor in CBD congestion? Would have been nice if they’d agreed to extend service operating hours too, some places still have a last bus at 11pm.

        2. Civic car park also closes early which is a hassle, so if driving, need to head to downtown and walk up the hill for a late movie or drink.

        3. I have no idea why the AT car-parks have to lock at midnight. People who want to stay after longer have to move their cars out.

          With these rules there nightlife will be restricted in auckland CBD

        4. This Saturday was certainly congested getting into civic when I left it at 8pm, so much so that the “full” signs were out at the entry and lots of traffic was looking for a park around the streets.

          But then, that’s down to pricing. I certainly chose to park at civic because it’s $8 at the weekend, and then walk to the film rather than park at the venue.

          Have you seen sky city’s rates?!!! No brainer to take the heavily subsidised option…

        5. Well I can imagine that as a resident of the old tramway era suburbs you have plenty of options to get to the CBD at most times of the week.

          But suppose for a moment you live on the North Shore at the moment. Say you’re in Milford, which is hardly all-the-way-up-in-the-middle-of-nowhere. You come home at 6pm, and you want to have a drink with people in the CBD. The earliest you can make that using public transport is very likely 7 to 7:30pm, using a bus which comes every hour, which may or may not show up, and may or may not come 30 minutes late. Even in the worst of evening peak congestion you can still make it much earlier and more reliable than that by driving.

          Or you can walk the 2 km to Smales Farm and catch the NEX. Which still only comes every 15 minutes, but at least reliably so.

          And yes this is set to improve with the new network, but (1) it is not there yet as of today and (2) let’s first see how late those services stop in the evening. Getting a taxi is still much more expensive than driving and parking.

    3. It could actually improve it, imagine the thought for a second…parking is expensive to let’s take a _____ (taxi, train, bus) then we can drink too. Oh and the great advantage for hospitality is when people drink more, they tend to spend more.

  6. In terms of behaviour change, the changes to the daily cap will only affect casual/irregular users. People who have leases will be unaffected. Typically, lease holders are the regular commuters. If you want to reduce the amount of commuters and change behaviour, increasing lease rates is likely to be more effective at increasing peak hour capacity than increasing casual rates which targets irregular/casual users.

    1. Aye, which raises the question: why does AT offer monthly parking at all? If they’re already filling up the buildings with (more lucrative) daily or hourly users, why not get rid of the leases to make more room for those daily and hourly users?

      1. Leasing is giving it away. And as a ratepayer even a casual glance at how the parking assets are run is a wind-up. They only aim to run the buildings at an operating return, the land cost is not calculated. AT holds the market down as the lowest cost provider.

        When Sky City adds its government sanctioned 1415 new parking spaces under the convention centre we need to take the opportunity to redevelop the Downtown parking building to a higher value use.

        1. Patrick its sound business sense. Parking paid by credit card once each month is way less overhead. That is why businesses (and AT parking buildings ARE businesses) offer discounts for loyalty, just as any other business does. This is nothing new in the commercial world.

  7. Another dumb change from the authorities.

    We are told that peak hour PT services are full and there is little capacity available. So the solution is to try and shift more demand to these services?

    Almost as idiotic as AT spending money to have a huge stand at Speedshow.

        1. By reducing peak fares to the city? 70 people paying $3 each for a 30 minute bus journey is a lot of dollars.

    1. Matthew, I see you understand how changing car park pricing could alter the demand for a transport mode that is currently near to or at capacity at peak times. Exactly what AT are trying to do!

    2. Agree with Matthew. The price increase designed to move people to PT happens now. The needed capacity to accommodate them is years away. What happens in the meantime?

      1. You pay more to continue to drive into the city, rather than the ratepayer picking up part of your tab.

        Freedom of the car goes both ways.

  8. I see Heart of the City supports the price increase, but also is ridiculously enthusiastic about massively increasing turnover of short-stay car parking – are they in favour of a targeted rate for more streets so more shoppers can drive to the City Centre too (not that it’s doable, but hey, their tweet is ridiculous to start with)?

    One step forward in their thinking, one step back.

    1. How long does it take to reach that situation? what is the total population of the area?
      It’s a salutary lesson to build the infrastructure in conjunction with the accommodation.
      With a directed economy you would have thought that jobs could be closer to the places people live.

    2. That is another issue.

      The council has a flawed system and official would always try to impress their superior instead of the residences.
      So the planning is always a white elephant.

    3. Thanks Stevnz I found that link interesting. Do you know the background to it?
      eg how long ago the developement started? What the population of the overall area is? Whether it was intended to have jobs close to/or part of the new city? or was it designed as a dormitory?

  9. I have used the Civic car parks for the past 12 months. When the daily price increased from $14 to $17 a lot of my work colleagues moved to SkyCity and the Stamford Plaza for $15. Interestingly the amount of free car parks when I leave at 3:30pm increased from 20-50 to 150-250. Not too sure how that all financially stacks up but I guess it is good news for people who wish to travel into the CBD for a meeting during the day.

  10. Unfortunately this will encourage more hide and riders. I live in Kingsland and my street is parked out by 7.30am each day by people driving in from the burbs and then jumping on the 1 stage bus to the CBD. It is a nightmare for anybody who wants to have something delivered, to have visitors, or for the owners of the few sites in my street which do not have off street parking.

    1. The street is just as much theirs as it is yours. Anyway, as you’ve alluded to, you have great public transport links – only 1 stage to the CBD! It shouldn’t be a big deal if you can’t park easily in your street during the day.

      1. I am not complaining about not being able to park in my street. I have off street car parking and even if I didn’t I go out as they are coming in and vice versa. My concern is that when the chap across the road gets a new fridge delivered, the truck has to stop in the street for 15 minutes and completely blocks the traffic. Also the lady down the road had to run a shuttle service for her 5 year old’s birthday party as there is no visitor parking. I work in Takapuna and the residential streets around the shopping centre have a mix of unrestricted parking and P180 parking so that both all day and short term parking can be accommodated. This needs to be more widespread in the city fringe suburbs.

        1. Or get rid of on-street parking in these narrow streets and replace it with drop off / loading zones?

  11. The correct price for a publicly owned parking space is what the market will bear. As people go about their private business in the big city it’s not the government’s job to help them find a parking space any more than it’s the government’s job to pay for their cappucinos when they have a break.

    By the way, I would say the same about suburban park and ride facilities. It’s unfortunate that people seem to assume that park and ride ought to be free, which takes resources and political attention away from improving connecting bus services.

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