Parking all day in Auckland Transport’s huge Downtown carpark is about to get a lot more expensive with news they’re raising prices from January 21.

From January 21 the capped price for parking at the Auckland Transport-owned car park will rise from $24 to $40 a day.

The capped rate kicks in for those who park for more than five hours.

At the same time its hourly rate will rise from $4 to $4.50.

A spokesman for Auckland Transport said the Downtown car parking building was frequently full meaning parking was not available for people who were going into the city centre to do business.

“Auckland Transport wants to encourage short-term parking in this building rather than all day parking.”

Image from the Herald

AT don’t just want to encourage short stay parking, it’s their formal policy, as can be seen here.

The management of off-street parking facilities is designed to align with AT’s strategic objectives, which are focussed on a mode shift towards public transport to help minimise traffic congestion. To achieve this, AT’s policies will prioritise short stay parking over commuter parking, and achieve a consistent approach to setting parking rates.

And here’s what they say triggers changes

As noted above, AT target an 85% occupancy rate and they report on this (for all city centre carparks as a whole) on a monthly basis in their stats report that goes to the board. The most recent one for off-street parking is below and is regularly at or over 90%.

While AT don’t publicly breakdown the occupancy, we can get an idea from the Downtown Carpark bot on twitter (created by reader Geogoose). If you compare the downtown one to the Civic and Victoria St carparks you’ll see it’s much more consistently busy.

In fact, perhaps what’s surprising is that it’s taken this long to make any changes to the price. The last change was in July 2015 when they raised the daily cap from $17 to $24. The hourly rate the same and I’m not sure how long it’s been at $4.

So what are the alternative? As the policy notes, and AT repeat in the article, they want to shift more people to using public transport to get to the city. Our PT network has improved significantly in recent years to the point that more people arrive in the city each morning by means other than in a car and in some corridors, such as Symonds St and Fanshawe St, 70-80% of people arrive by PT.

Perhaps AT could further help people to find their PT options by putting information at the downtown carparks, why not even have someone who can sell loaded HOP cards for those that don’t have them. 

For those that still want to drive, there are plenty of other carparks in the city, here are some of the closest ones.

  • The nearest one, the Viaduct carpark is less than 200m away. It charges $12 an hour with a maximum of $45.
  • Not far away to the south is the SAP building on Wyndham St. There you’ll pay $15 an hour capped at $60.
  • To the east is the Britomart carpark which charges $12 an hour to a maximum of $45.

Some of these do have earlybird parking but what they show is that if anything, even ATs new rates are still well below the market.

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  1. I’m pleased that it’ll encourage more people to take PT. But when I do drive occasionally to work (maybe twice a year), I park Downtown. Guess I’ll just have to suck up $16 extra for those odd occasions

  2. $40 is ridiculously expensive. A lot of the commuters parking in there are early/late shift workers who literally cannot get to work reliably or at all on PT. How are they supposed to afford $40 a day?

    I suppose we don’t need people to set up building cranes at 5am….

    1. $40 a day is the market rate, it’s been outrageously subsidised until now. If you don’t want to pay it, get a scooter, but make sure you get in early because the motorcycle parks are chocka everyday. But even with hundreds of motorbikes and scooters parked in the building, they only take up a very small proportion of the space, often making use of areas by the stairwells which would otherwise be wasted.

      1. Speaking as a worker in the construction industry, when I’m on a site in the CBD I leave my toolkit there and use the bus every day. Many of my workmates do likewise. No public subsidy required.

      2. And this is key. It may seem ridiculously expensive to someone who’s been taking this welfare from ratepayers for so long. Providing space in the city centre to be used by one person to store their personal transport equipment is indeed ridiculously expensive.

    2. Can you give us a link to support this suggested demographic split of people parking here? The central city is generally considered the best place to get to by public transport. If the hours of operation for public transport need to be extended, we should certainly be pushing for that. So I’d love to see any research that supports it.

    3. Most building sites will have consent conditions that limit construction hours, it would be very few people that need to be on site every day at 5am to get things set up. There is a building site right next to my office, I’m pretty sure the setting up of the crane only happened once, it’s not an ongoing job.

      This problem, if it really is a problem, is best sorted by the market ensuring people a paid sufficiently to take on roles in the CBD with it’s extra travel costs. There are plenty of construction jobs outside the CBD.

    4. Angry commuter how much do you earn coming in at 5am to rig cranes? I thought crane operators are pretty well paid. The average Auckland salary is about $75,000. Would you be on more than that?

    5. Define “ridiculously expensive”. It sounds to me like it is around market rates.
      I’ve also found caviar to be ridiculously expensive – should the council subsidised that too?

    6. It is a step in the right direction. There should be no cap at all. People should pay for every hour they park. If you don’t want to pay don’t go there.

        1. +1

          Fun game, don’t engage with concern trolls until you have figured out the obvious lie in their argument. My favourite recent one is that there is no alternative to using Quay Street from St Heliers to Herne Bay: google’s fastest route suggestion doesn’t use Quay Street.

  3. Yes, Angrycommuter, you’re absolutely right on two counts. 1. It is meant to be rediculously expensive 2. It is with edge cases like the early morning crane setup operator where it becomes a problem. And the answer lies with the crane company to find a solution, not AT or me.

    1. All the cranes I’ve seen been set up of late happened on a Sunday when they closed the streets to haul everything in. Every other day they clock in at the same rime as everyone else.

  4. Ooh, I hope AT will start using its Parking Strategy a bit more… because it’s been sorely neglected all over the city. Wonderful progress. Maybe next step could be updating it so that it could help to solve some of the challenges of the 21st Century.

  5. Could AT get a better return by converting the parking to commercial space? If more are using public transport, there should be less need for parking space.

    1. It’s not about maximising profit, it’s about providing a service to those who genuinely need it. There will be people who need to drive into the city for various reasons. AT needs to ensure that those people have a parking space.

      1. Um… in the face of a city centre that has 55000 parks, which is way more than it should have, and which are inducing way too much traffic on the roads, I don’t think this is a relevant concern. AT has a reponsibility to ensure our people have good access, and are safe. They have a responsibility to making sure we don’t ruin things for future generations.

        In a city which is oversubscribed with parking, AT has a long way to go in encouraging its removal before it has to start worrying about ensuring there’s still enough parking at a good price for those who need it. Let’s get the priorities sorted.

      2. Who are these people that genuinely need a parking space? There is access to food, water, electricity and medical services outside of the CBD, I’m not sure there really is a group the genuinely need a ratepayer subsidised car park.

      3. I genuinely need a parking space but I can’t get one sometimes because AT doesn’t charge enough so they are full. I am more than happy with the fee increase but they should get rid of the cap as well.

  6. Looking at the shape of the graph it’s not the commuters that are the problem, there is consistently about 600 cars arriving between 6 and 9, that’s only 30% of the capacity. What’s with the 600 cars that never leave? Are the 600 people using it as their own private parking garage getting hit with the same price spike?
    Maybe push out the short term spaces to 5 hours, but make half the carpark short term only.

  7. Those are privately allocated lease parks. One assumes most of them also arrive and depart between 6 and 9 also.

    You can expect that the lease parking will have the same price rise, although it might take a year or so for all of the leases to run out.

    Good idea to make a lot of it short term for half day type stuff.

    1. I have read the Parking Strategy over and over and I can’t find anywhere about AT providing leased parking. If parking is so short why are some of these spaces not cancelled as they expire?

  8. What commercial enterprise would get away with increasing their pricing by 42.5% in 3.5 years?
    Only a bankrupt local Government authority has the stupidity to do this.
    The downtown carpark was probably built in the 1960’s and owes the people of Auckland nothing.
    In fact it is so old it is probably earthquake prone. But none of this revenue will be spent on enlarging it or making this building easier to use. It will soon be the lowest highrise in the area
    I assume the dozens of AT vehicles that park in it overnight all enjoy charge free access?
    Put it another way, a carpark is less than 15 sq mtrs of space, rented at $40 per day for a 5 day week represents an annual rental of $10,400 pa or close to $700 per square metre per year, which is almost double the office rents in most of the downtown area.
    Its time for employers to move their businesses and staff out of the city centre, Lets create more suburban sprawl and create jobs close to where people live.

    1. They are charging less than the commercial carparking enterprises around them, all the price rise shows is that they have been undercharging for years, providing an effective subsidy for years. As a ratepayer who rarely parks in the CBD I am happy that AT is trying to ensure this valuable public land gets as much return as possible.

      Employment in the CBD has grown much more rapidly than the number of parking spaces in recent years, I don’t think a lack of cheap parking is putting employers off.

      1. According the Downtown car park web site, monthly lease parking is from $373 per month which makes extremely good value. “This option is currently unavailable”, at that price it’s no surprise, they are almost giving it away.

        1. Presumably it’s still listed as a price, but not available, because they have limited it to a certain number of parks rather than that they have changed their policy, because if it was the latter it wouldn’t be listed any more.

          That’s outrageously cheap. A few lucky people get to enjoy huge ‘welfare’ subsidy from ratepayers not based on need but just because they got in early?

        2. It’s interesting to look at the data from the Downtown Carpark bot on Twitter. From the start of the year through to mid-June there were at least 250 spots occupied throughout the day, suggesting those 250 spots were leased long term.

          From mid-June the number of always-occupied spots jumps to around 700, suggesting the a further 450 spots have been leased long term.

          It’s hard to reconcile AT’s stated strategy of prioritising short stay parking over commuter parking with this leasing of spots.

    2. Well they really should just sell it, can you give a single reason for the council owning a car parking building? If they sell it then we can all find out what the real rate should be.

    3. What commercial enterprise would get away with not having raised their pricing in line with the market for so long?

      Furthermore, what public entity has the right to use rates to subsidise individual’s poor transport choice like this?

      Let’s not forget that parking provision induces driving. At $40 per day, this price in no way covers the costs imposed on society and the environment from this induced driving.

    4. Expensive part of town, it seems. Is that an artefact of having much of the employment concentrated in those office towers?

      A few years ago I leased a parking spot near Hobson Street, and the market rate over there was only about $4000 per year (you would see prices like 320 per month or 80 per week).

    5. Your math is a bit off. A carparking space is 15m2. But you’ve forgotten all the access lanes, ramps etc. each parking spot actually needs 30 to 40m2 of floor area. So maybe $300 per metre at best.

      1. In 2011 my rent for a retail unit a short walk away rose too $1,250 pm pa, and I thought I’d got a good deal at that.

    6. The original building may have dated from around the 60s (can’t remember exactly) but it was expanded more recently.
      If you take into account the full costs of the car park including operating, general maintenance, sensor upgrades, advertising – I doubt the Capital Expenditure has ever been fully recovered.
      If you look at wider effects due to the traffic generation it causes – bus priority capital projects on Fanshawe to help PT bypass traffic congestion, signals, road maintenance due to wear, traffic management during events, etc. etc. Overall it’s probably a massive drag on AT’s expenses.
      Then if you look even wider at the opportunity costs of having it as a car park vs commercial or residential, health impacts due to traffic generated pollution, the fact it limits the ability to create great spaces around it due to the need to maintain the overpass and ramps – Aucklanders would probably overall be healthier, wealthier and happier if the whole thing was demolished.

  9. I wish AT would put a proper safe pathway across the entrance. People just drive through expecting pedestrians to jump out of the way. There should be a zebra and speed bumps at the entry, maybe even a traffic light and entry only lane.

    1. THIS! Car just fly in and out and seem to think the lowered FOOTpath is an extension of the road. I see people just standing their queing to cross…

    2. Ideally you just have a kerb cut, and that’s it. There are many parking buildings where the entrances are built like a full-blown intersection, like the one on High Street, which is a PITA for pedestrians.

      The downtown building entry is not like that however, there the footpath just continues as normal. If drivers still don’t give way to pedestrians there then they’re blatantly breaking the road rules and the only solution would be enforcement.

  10. It seems a good move and a good compromise. It encourages daily PT use but also helps facilitate occasional inner city trips. Perhaps they can take some of the room and convert it to electric scooter/ car/ bicycle recharging stations and put some solar panels on the roof?

    One issue that has already arisen with rising carparking prices in the city centre is the emergence of the park-and-ride suburb. It used to be Freeman’s Bay, then Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. Now Grey Lynn on Ponsonby side has changed the rules. You only get 180 minutes free parking unless one is a resident and paid their annual sub. West Lynn is still a free-for-all. While it undergoes street improvements it may be worth considering making parking there also 180 minute only (with free residents parking). There is a very determined opposition to road improvements there that seem to centre on local business parking requirements. I do understand this. West Lynn is on the other side of a valley from the city centre and on only one not frequent bus route. It would seem likely that if people can’t park there they won’t shop there and I very much value these small independent businesses. I absolutely agree with the changes, but I also want access to the shops. I think this park and ride effect needs to be halted before the acrimonious exchanges get worse.

    1. Let’s put it on the agenda to discuss sometime, Alex. It’s important to see the big picture; look up the most recent research coming from all quarters about how providing for cycling and walking amenity is the best bet for retailers. And think about where West Lynn is. There’s no way that a shopping centre in such proximity to the centre of the city should be in any way dependent on customers driving there. So don’t get fooled by the bikelash.

      1. And I share your concerns about park and ride. When the Grey Lynn scheme starts next year, AT should be monitoring what happens in the next suburbs out. I’ve requested they do so, but hold no hope, given they haven’t done the ‘pre’ monitoring required.

        The solution to hide and ride should never include residential parking schemes; that’s public space and could be put to much better use.

        1. so you think it is fair to charge people who have to use the car to make a business meeting in the city over $12 per hour? where do you think this cost ends up?

        2. It’s a cost of doing business, why should this cost sit with anyone else but those involved in the business, including it’s customers? I don’t see why ratepayers who don’t use this business should be subsidising it.

        3. Mark me down too as not wanting to subsidise your meeting.

          I run meetings everyday in the city and my clients of all socio economic levels manage to attend. Many take the bus or train; many seek out cheap car parking (AT still run plenty of that); and the balance seem to accept that it a one off and so pay the cost.

        4. If you are attending a business meeting then the business pays the cost, not the person. I am quite sure that the business would rather pay $4.50 an hour for parking than $60 lose $60 an hour of income for an employee to circle the block looking for car parking.

  11. If the revenue is put towards public transport, why do I still need to wait 30 minutes at off-peak to catch a bus from where I live to the City Centre? I told Auckland Transport to increase the frequency to every 10 minutes but they straight out refused. My nearest ‘frequent’ bus route is a 20 minute walk away!

    1. They refused my request for a direct helicopter service from home to work too, I was pretty worked up for a couple of days. I’m happy to join you in your protest about their poor service if you want.

      1. Jezza, that sort of sarcasm is unnecessary on this blog. We are here to maturely debate transport issues in Auckland. I am pointing out that AT are not following through with what they’re doing. They’re trying to increase bus frequency around the city but when I suggest doing the same they refuse. Your direct helicopter service wouldn’t even be that frequent anyway.

        1. Ray, I agree that trying to quickly bring up frequencies for people in suburbs is really important. This is the problem with having too low a density. Is there anything you can think of on your route that would boost patronage – peak or otherwise? Would bus lanes and bus priority speed up the journey and attract more people? Do you think people would respond to cheaper off peak fares?

          Is there anything that could speed up that 20 minute walk to the other, frequent, bus route? Is there an access way that could be put in to make the route more direct? Would you feel comfortable on a bike if you could leave it in secure storage there? What would make you feel comfortable on a bike?

          The problems you encounter are repeated in many places all over the city, and if solutions can be found, they should be implemented and shared with other communities so people can find similar solutions there.

        2. You haven’t really pointed out that AT have not followed through, as you haven’t answered my question about what bus route you are on. It might be quite reasonable that there are low frequencies on that route, but without knowing the route it is pretty hard to comment.

  12. Let the market decide. Ratepayer subsidized carparks are holding the private operators’ rates lower than they otherwise would be too.

  13. +1 to AT.

    All ACC / AT need to do now is to regulate & introduce a levy on private (Wilsons) commuter parking, and on private long term parking in proportion to the commuter congestion.

  14. Another issue is the car park charge in hour unit.
    This would be an issue if people just wish to stay for half hour or 15minutes.

    It is even a bigger issue as this force people to keep watching the time so they don’t stay for 1:01 minutes and creates frustration and stress.

    This again shows AT never cares about customer experiences.

    1. Why does it create stress? You can stay as long as you like then just pay for what you used. I could see 30,60,90,120 minute periods and then hourly working, but beyond that, half hourly is a bit pointless.

      1. I don’t think it is very hard to do and it shouldn’t cost AT any money to manage it. So why not do it?

        Maybe you don’t, but I do get frustrated if my parking fee jump from $4.50 to $9.00 because I walk too slow to get my car.

  15. The right price for a publicly owned car park is: whatever maximises income for the owners, the community of ratepayers.
    As people go about their business in the big city, it’s not the government’s job to subsidise their parking costs any more than it’s the government’s job to pay for their cappuccinos when they have a break.
    An exception would be, if the government had some public policy reason for wanting to encourage the behaviour concerned – in this case, driving to the city. Which it doesn’t, in this case.

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