Late last year we heard about the Auckland Transport’s review of their Parking Strategy. At that time, they were seeking approval from the Council’s Planning Committee on the strategic direction of the strategy.
On Thursday they are seeking the approval of the Planning Committee and the AT board to put the strategy out for public consultation.
To unlock some of the city’s most gridlocked roads and reduce transport emissions, Auckland’s draft Parking Strategy proposes changes to how parking is managed across our city.
Pending both Auckland Transport Board and Auckland Council Planning Committee approval on Thursday, Aucklanders will be asked to have their say on the proposals throughout April. The proposals focus on ensuring people can move efficiently around Auckland, no matter what their mode of travel is.
Auckland Council Planning Committee Chair and Councillor Chris Darby says the draft strategy would allow communities to flourish as parking spaces are transformed to give genuine transport choice and to make our streets more liveable.
“Parking affects everyone whether they own a car or not. Space allocated to parking influences how much space is available for footpaths, cycleways, street trees, buses and high occupancy vehicle lanes, as well as affecting how much is invested in public transport.
“These changes to how we manage parking across our city are desperately needed to help ready Auckland’s transport network for the future.
“Some of our busiest streets have become fulltime carparks, storing cars and holding up our communities instead of enabling travel across our city. That’s just not fair on Aucklanders.”
AT’s Executive General Manager of Planning and Investment, Jenny Chetwynd, says the draft Parking Strategy would have wide-reaching benefits if implemented.
“Auckland faces significant population growth over the next decade, which has the potential to add more congestion on our roads. Private vehicle use is also a major contributor to the city’s transport emissions, which need to be reduced. To address these challenges, we need to decrease vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) and enable active modes and public transport to serve our communities far more than ever before – and this means making space for them on our busy road corridors.
“Therefore, we’ve really got to challenge ourselves about how we use our road space, and in particular, our busy key corridors. By rethinking how we can use our roads for movement of people, rather than movement of cars – or even storage of cars – our city will become a place where everyone can connect and move efficiently.”
Despite any changes, Ms Chetwynd acknowledges vehicles still have a big role to play in how Aucklanders get around for the foreseeable future.
“Changes in parking management will have benefits for drivers too, especially those who rely on our roads for their work such as the freight and trade sectors.
“It’s important to note that any changes will be rolled out progressively over the next 10 years and individual communities will be consulted with.”
It’s great to see AT using some more bold and direct language about the need for changing how our streets work. However, my biggest concern remains as it was last year: that this is really just a delaying tactic. That’s because the ‘contentious’ aspects of this draft strategy were also part of their existing Parking Strategy that was adopted in 2015, and AT never did anything about implementing them. So when AT say the changes will be rolled out over 10 years I read that as saying this is a strategy that won’t happen.
In saying that, it’s kind of odd that AT are presenting what is effectively their current strategy as a massive change. That, combined with indications last year that earlier versions of this review were much less bold, makes me worry that AT are deliberately trying to garner negative feedback so they can scale the strategy back.
So what are the ‘contentious’ issues? There are two key ones the media have already focused on.
Removing Parking from the Strategic Transport Network
As the document explains
To ensure these outcomes, the Parking Principles direct that parking is the lowest priority use of space on the Strategic Transport Network. This means that space for projects that improve safety or transport options (such as establishing bus lanes) will be provided by repurposing parking, rather than widening the road
AT initially wanted this strategy to allow them to just remove parking as appropriate, but the council and in particular the Mayor baulked at this idea and so the draft now includes that they will consult the public for every one of these roads.
However they also note that they will only remove parking if there is a project to use the reallocated space and that “At this stage around 20% of the roads on the Strategic Transport Network are proposed for improvements over the next 10 years“. So not that much will change then.
2015 Parking Strategy
The 2015 strategy already has this covered, though, noting in a section titled Parking on Arterial Roads
AT will manage parking on arterial roads by extending clearways or removing parking where it:
- Inhibits the capacity of the road to carry more people (& goods) particularly in the peak periods, and/or
- Causes significant delays to the speed and reliability of public transport on the FTN, and/or
- Causes safety risks for cyclists or impedes quality improvements on the Auckland Cycle Network.
Charging for Park and Ride
AT say in their press release:
The draft Parking Strategy includes changes for how Auckland’s Park and Ride (PnR) facilities will be managed. PnR sites have an important role to play in Auckland as they extend the reach of the public transport system and reduce congestion.
To ensure this continues to be the core role of PnRs, AT will need to actively manage them as a premium offering to customers. This will include enforcement of these spaces, and a pricing model, to make sure they are being used for their intended purpose.
While AT cannot be specific or pre-empt the decision made by the Traffic Control Committee (TCC) on fees, AT estimates that the fees would be modest, and in the range of approximately $2-$4 per day initially.
Ms Chetwynd says that charging for PnRs is one option to ensure they remain fit for purpose in the future.
From the language above and also in the document itself, AT talk about P&R being a premium service, and they’re seemingly worried about some P&R sites being used by local workers, thereby taking up spaces that could be being used by PT commuters.
One thing that strikes me as missing from the conversation is how charging for P&R can help improve PT accessibility. The current setup rewards those who can get to the station early, and often spaces are taken up by people who live only a short distance away from the station itself or live on a feeder bus route.
With the carparks being free, this means that PT is less accessible for a wide range of potential PT customers. For example, a parent who might need to walk their kid to school before heading to work – but by the time they’ve done that, the frequency of feeder buses has often dropped and with the P&R full they end up just driving their entire journey.
2015 Parking Strategy
The 2015 strategy also allows for charging for P&R, and even includes thresholds for when pricing should be applied, such as that pricing is introduced when additional P&R capacity is provided (which AT has ignored), and that they should:
Introduce pricing once demand consistently exceeds the 85 percent occupancy threshold capacity during the morning peak and viable alternative options for accessing the stations are in place, such as frequent bus feeders and good cycle parking, walking connections
Overall, the proposed parking strategy is fine – but then it should be, given it’s just a rebrand of the existing document. The only question is what guarantees will AT give that they’ll actually implement it.
Assuming the Council and AT Board approve the strategy for consultation, it will go out for discussion in April.