It’s groundhog time once again. Every year at around this time, we post a near identical post because every year Auckland Transport makes the same boneheaded decision. This all relates to what should be a cheerful occasion, the Santa Parade. You can see the previous posts below:
First, here’s what AT have to say.
Santa is coming to town on Sunday but the central city has changed a bit since his last visit. Santa says driving into town isn’t a great idea so he’s suggesting you take the family on a bus, train or ferry to the Farmers Santa Parade.
Public transport will be busier than usual but Auckland Transport is putting on some extra services to make sure everyone is in town for the 1pm parade.
On buses, trains and ferries, there will be some selected additional services but not too many and regular fares apply. The fare situation is a little different this year though since the introduction of simplified fares. The family pass no longer exists, although how hard it was to buy in the past – only available at a manned train or busway stations – I suspect it was rarely sold. Instead, a feature of Simplified Fares is that kids with a HOP card loaded with a child concession pay a maximum of 99c for a trip.
As an example, if all using HOP, a family of two adults and two children from the Ishmus or Lower North Shore zones will pay $16.36 for return trip while a family travelling from the Upper North Shore, Waitakere or Manukau North will pay $23.56.
But then they get the part about those who drive to town.
If you are planning to drive to the parade, please be aware that road closures and parking restrictions will be in place.
Public parking is free at the Downtown, Victoria Street and Civic car parks for vehicles parked by 11am and exited by 6pm. Exit after 6pm will incur a fee.
So after telling people they shouldn’t drive to town they offer free parking for those that do. Rather than writing the same thing again, I’m largely just going to quote from these old posts. Here’s what I said in 2013 about the same situation.
AT are making two of their parking buildings free for the afternoon. Are they completely insane?
Firstly it completely undermines the any incentive for people to use public transport to get to the city, the one location that would be easiest to ramp up services to. But worse it is likely to cause nightmares on the day. The free parking only covers the Downtown and Victoria St carparks which according to the AT website have 1,890 and 850 spaces respectively so 2,740 all up. Even if every space was taken up with a car carrying the mythical nuclear family of two parents and two kids, that only represents about 11,000 people. That might seem like a lot but would only represent a small fraction of the overall crowd, often estimated at up to 300,000 but more realistically to be around the 80-90k mark.
The problem though is that lured by the potential for free parking heaps of people will then decide to drive to the CBD, after all why pay for a train or bus when you can get free parking in the CBD. Also worth pointing out that it isn’t possible to buy a family pass now unless you are at one of the handful of train stations that still sell them and it is also the same day that the rest of the Metrolink fleet switch over to HOP.
Those car parking spaces will be gone in a flash (probably before the free period even starts) and that will leave the CBD clogged with cars trying to find alternative places to park and will potentially even see people missing the event as a result.
Now I understand the free parking is possibly related to deals done some time ago but what I don’t understand is why AT don’t make public transport free too. I imagine a lot of families would be keen to use it. The main reason I suspect they don’t is they’re too scared their crappy weekend frequencies, even with a few extra services, would be easily overwhelmed.
AT seem to have finally learned to increase PT capacity before the annual March Madness, perhaps next year they’ll learn to put frequent services and free PT on for the Santa Parade.