Yesterday I covered the that the council has revealed it has a $270 million operational cost gap that it needs to fill, largely caused by higher than expected inflation and interest costs. A lot of public discussion has already begun on how to address that and it seems to be focusing on things like selling the council’s airport shares or leasing out port operations.

I suggested a few areas the council could look to too, such as:

  • Getting a better deal out of government
  • Focusing funding on areas where it’s actually needed
  • Selling some publicly owned golf courses

I’ve also been thinking a bit more about some things that could be done in the transport space so I thought I’d share a few more ideas, and ones that could benefit the council not just now but into the future too as well as things that align with the council’s and government’s current long term strategic goals.

More On Street Parking charging

Currently we only charge for on-street parking in a handful of places around the region. Auckland Transport’s draft parking strategy aims to improve the management of parking around Auckland and in many cases that means more proactive management. The strategy even highlights where the initial focus for the management of on-street parking would happen.

With council in need of extra revenue, perhaps one option could be a rapid roll out of paid parking in many of the locations identified by the strategy. As well as raising revenue for the council it will help encourage people to use other modes of transport if they can, helping in reducing both emissions and congestion – which can be exacerbated by people circling looking for a space. Those that want to or need to drive will also find parking easier.

And if you need another reason for why we should charge on-street parking more, a high-level estimate is that ratepayers are currently subsidising free on-street parking to the tune of $1 billion annually:

Better Parking Enforcement and higher fines

Even without charging for more on-street parking, more enforcement is needed. Over the last five or so years it feels like incidences of cars parked on footpaths, in cycle lanes, across driveways, through our public spaces, and more have severely increased. There are a variety of reasons for this but the main one is a lack of fear of enforcement meaning people are weighing up that it’s cheaper to get the odd fine than it is to pay for parking daily, such as this example from Dunedin.

Along with more enforcement, AT need to charge higher fines because as this recent RNZ article notes, AT often make no money from enforcement actions.

AT could issue fines of $40 for footpath parking breaches, and in the last seven months issued almost 6000 of these fines – about $240,000 in total.

However, in issuing an infringement AT had to spend more than $30 on average, plus further costs to tow a vehicle, meaning the organisation could actually lose money enforcing the law.

And if raising fines requires action from the government, then council and AT need to be strongly advocating for that to happen.

Getting vehicles off footpaths is critical, especially for those with disabilities, those who need to use mobility devices and parents with prams, for whom an inconveniently and illegally parked vehicle can cause them to have to go out into traffic or find another route. This also from that RNZ article:

People using wheelchairs often kept to routes with well-designed crossings and kerb ramps which they knew they could safely navigate, she said.

“To suddenly have this barrier in the way of a vehicle inconveniently parked throws you out completely, and you might actually have to reverse your journey and find another route.”

For people with vision impairments, the path could be even more challenging to negotiate.

“There’s suddenly this obstacle in the way… Are they going to step into the road in order to get out of the way?” Naylor said.

“They have no idea what traffic is coming in their direction and the more electric cars we have, the quieter the traffic is going to be.

“That just adds to the hazard of it all.”

This is from the UK but equally applies here

Park and Ride charging

Like with on-street parking, AT should be encouraged to urgently implement paid parking at park & ride facilities, and like with on-street parking doing so is also part of the parking strategy.

While park and rides will continue to cater for, and focus on, long stay, they will also be priced to encourage access by other modes where possible, and to recognise the cost to provide parking facilities

Residential parking permits

Auckland Transport have rolled out Residential Parking Permits to 18 locations, most of which are on the fringes of the city centre.

A residential parking zone is an area where eligible residents and businesses can apply for parking permits and coupons that give an exemption from parking restrictions.

The main idea of these areas is that it makes it easier for local residents to park their cars on the street while the normal parking restrictions help discourage commuters who were parking in the streets and often walking or catching a bus the last few kilometres into the city.

For residents in these areas the zones are incredibly valuable as they not only make it easier to park and use their cars, potentially encouraging them to drive more, but for those that do have off-street parking they can make those properties more valuable as that space can be converted for other uses.

The real kicker with these permits is the cost, with them being just $70 per year, an absolute bargain.

My understanding as to why the cost is so low comes down to legislation only allowing for councils to only charge the cost of administration, rather than something closer to the actual value of these spaces. Like with on-street parking, the council and AT probably need to be lobbying for this to change.

Red Light Cameras

Like with illegal parking, red light running has become an epidemic in Auckland and every time it happens there’s a chance it could end in tragedy.

The council should be pushing for a massive roll out of red light cameras and do a deal with the government to ensure that any revenue raised by them is given to the council – ideally every intersection would have them.

None of the ideas above on their own, or even combined, are likely to be enough to plug the $270 million revenue gap – but could help in reducing the size of the gap while also improving other areas like safety. They should at least be in the mix of things looked at.

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  1. I can also see the backlash when the Council introduces paid parking everywhere. Politicians won’t touch that ever.

    In fact all of these suggestions constitute a ‘War on Cars’ (obviously it is not, it is just enforcement of existing rules / laws which are broken blatantly by car drivers). I love it, and I would love to see the backlash.

    I suspect what will happen though is that they “save money” by reducing their enforcement capability (i.e. laying off employees whose job is to ticket people).

  2. I found this on twitter today, sorry I lost the source.
    A New York City Council bill that advocates believe will unleash a nicely remunerated civilian army against drivers who recklessly block roadways and bike lanes is looking likely to move ahead.
    The bill would do two things. Create a new, $175 ticket for “hazardous obstruction by a vehicle of a bicycle lane, bus lane, … sidewalk, crosswalk, or fire hydrant when such vehicle is located within a radial distance of 1,320 feet of a school building, entrance, or exit.” And it would, most important, require the Department of Transport to create a protocol to allow civilians to “submit complaints and supporting evidence for alleged violations,” much as they can under the city’s anti-idling law.
    Any resulting ticket would kick back 25 percent — or almost $44 — to the person who filed the complaint. The bill is seen as a vast improvement on the current system, which allows residents to report illegally parked cars to the NYPD through 311, but rarely results in any action taken, let alone a financial reward to the tipster, and can often result in complainants being harassed by cops or those allegedly tipped off by cops.
    Opponents, including the NYPD and the DOT, claim such a scheme would set neighbor against neighbor, both agencies testified when a previous version of the concept, then-pushed by Restler’s predecessor Steve Levin, was making its way through the Council.

  3. I’m all for charging for parking at the park-n-rides, except they need to get the local buses back on track first. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to call my wife to pick me up from Albany station recently.

    Even now after they remove the frequently cancelled services from the timetable, I’m waiting for ghost buses.

  4. I’d love to see citizen reported fines in New Zealand (as discussed by J Familton above).

    Around me there are a lot of parking wardens who won’t issue tickets for vehicles parked illegally unless ‘there is a viable alternative car park’ so parking in cycle lanes and on footpaths is absolutely rampant. This decision needs to be removed from the people on the ground and we would need literally 10,000s of parking wardens to overcome the current culture of ‘if it fits, it sits’. This can only be achieved through citizen enforcement. Citizen enforcement is also empowering: people who experience inconvenience or danger because of the actions of others can actively pursue enforcement.

    1. You will find that many politicians in favour of law and order also favour exemptions for “minor traffic law violations”. Populist politicians (and Wayne Brown and his speech writers sometimes seems to fit this category) are unlikely to insist on stronger enforcement of traffic laws, stronger traffic laws, or more user pays for motorists. Indeed, the right, and especially the populist right, use traditional leftist arguments when it comes to user charges for parking and road use.

    2. AT also respond to complaints about illegal parking by saying that the officer attended but that the parking was legal. This is in the type of parking infringement that AT has in fact confirmed is illegal. So they’re directly making the situation harder to enforce, by spreading misinformation.

      “However, in issuing an infringement AT had to spend more than $30 on average” … this high average is entirely due to AT’s poor practices.

      They have refused for years to change their strategy to a cost-effective, proactive, area by area, enforcement regime, which is entirely legal to do. And they then have the gall to claim they are resource-constrained.

      I know AT are run by car dependent dinosaurs, but I still don’t understand this level of incompetence.

  5. “None of the ideas above on their own, or even combined, are likely to be enough to plug the $270 million revenue gap.”

    Beg to differ. If, say, red-light running was fined at $250, and if, say, Council collected 100% of that, then in theory at least, you could plug a $270m gap in a year by fining 3000 people a day.

    Extrapolating from Alec’s clip – which shows 8 scofflaws in one light sequence – there could well be 300 examples a day at this intersection alone, for this movement alone. You’d just need to find nine more locations that are equally bad (and I have no doubt they exist), and there’s your 3000.

    Of course, once the behaviour change kicks in at those locations, you’d move the cameras to the next ten on the list, and so on. And you could even start with more than ten locations.

    Our fellow Aucklanders might surprise us by learning fast, so you might not get all the way to $270m – but I reckon the other benefits would still make it worth a crack.

    1. “Scofflaw”. What a thoroughly useful word in the context of NZ drivers, Jolisa! $250 for red-light running, however, is just not enough. I propose somewhere between $620 and $750 as a nod to the wavelength range of red light in nanometres (…oh, and the likelihood of death or serious injury).

  6. “My understanding as to why the cost is so low comes down to legislation only allowing for councils to only charge the cost of administration, rather than something closer to the actual value of these spaces.

    I think this is the Council interpretation of the law, rather than the actual law. In Wellington the cost is $200, which is also quite low.
    With more density the number of people with residential parking permits would exceed the number available. The better off then might push for higher charges to reduce the number of applicants. People should also be allowed to bid for exclusive use of an on-street space for a year, and be able to repurpose the space for a moveable garden or temporarily grassed over recreational space.

  7. 1. Pay the bus drivers
    2. sack kiwirail and get the kiwisaver management team to run the business
    3. restart bus and train services
    4. remove 900 Hectares of free parking from Auckland – use this space for PT
    or just skip to 5.
    5. talk about it in endless circular conversations, then end up doing what Simeon Brown wants.

  8. I think the major issue is loss freedoms that GAs ideas would incur, and green space needs preservation, once it’s gone it is gone.

    1. These ideas don’t cost us any freedoms. You are still free to park even if it is not free of charge. Many of the ideas would gain us freedoms: freedom to access green space, freedom to safely use the road network

        1. Golf course are not lungs. They are maintained through excessive use of herbicides, pesticides, artificial fertiliser and copious quantities of fossil fuels.

      1. That depends on how you manage it. Take the Narrow Neck golf course for example – no fences at all and walking paths around the edge of the course. The holes are angled so you “drive” towards the center of the course. You can walk around it – picnic on the outer edges etc. Most of the rest of them are fenced, many are on peppercorn rentals and in the case of Chamberlain Park were so badly managed by a declining Club that it was only when Council and the Local Board wanted to open it up for more public use, that the users all of a sudden found the shedloads of dosh needed to fight the proposals in Court and on the ground.

    2. True green lungs need to include constructed wetlands and tree planting. All hazard and no fairway. Mown grass is not a green lung. The student study in yesterday’s post shows how much green lung can be developed in addition to all the housing. “A good walk spoilt” can still provide a good walk, without spoiling it by carrying around a sack of clubs.

      1. We can probably have both if we’re smart enough about it. Maybe it’s time to start asking why we can’t put our own spin on golf course plantings, grassways and course environs without limiting ourselves to the planter beds and kerb stones on the kart path.

        Hell, we might manage to make golf interesting. We can track anything with bluetooth tracking now, imagine how much more wild golf would be if there was no fairway and it was all hazard instead? Just because you can’t see the ball doesn’t mean you can’t play it.

      2. Lol – thinking a golf course is a green lung. The amount of herbicides, fertilisers used and mowers to keep the grounds ‘maintained’ for golf is crazy.
        If we’re worried about green lungs, then let’s plant the fairways with more trees. Golfer’s can work their way around them.

  9. Enforcement is good, and one could raise RPZ a bit. If one were to also rate all car parks that mean more income. It might also help avoid the problem of shifting carparking into off-street private parking, whether it be at home, office buildings or malls. Last thing we want is people to drive further to malls because it feels cheaper than going to the high street. Also not keen on the massive increase of traffic movements across pavements that would happen if parking under/beside buildings. Would on the other hand love to see some consolidated parking buildings with shared cars available on the edge of town centres and more pedestrianised/low traffic areas inside them and in surrounding residential streets !

  10. Its time to drop the big projects and look at the smaller wins, such as:
    – Use existing road space for dedicated cycle facilities instead of building cycleways
    – Use existing road space for buses instead of AMETI etc.
    – Use large buses (preferably trackless trams of some sort) instead of light rail
    – Speed up buses to save on drivers: less stops, all door boarding, direct routes, etc
    – Stop paying for the CRL and let the government sort it
    And also:
    – Sell everything that a council does not need – golf courses, airports, ports, etc
    – Implement congestion charging but not revenue neutral

    1. Surely we’ve learnt our lessons from the 80s and 90s about selling strategic assets such as the port and airport. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

      1. AC don’t own much of the airport, they don’t have any say, and they can always buy back shares if there was a reason to. As for the port, don’t we want it gone? Sell it on the condition that the new owner can turn the land into apartments once they have established an alternative port.

    1. I would be a bit scared that people decide to drive if they have to pay for parking anyway. It might be cheaper in Albany than in the city, but the added inconvenience of changing modes of transport, added dependency etc. may lead to more people taking the car instead of the bus.
      Any thoughts about this?

      1. Some will, but they will likely be balanced by those who are willing to pay and can now get a park a bit later in the morning.

        As long as the park is full nothing is lost. It may even improve things by pushing a few people onto free bus connections and making space available for those wanting to head into town for a couple of hours.

        If the carpark isn’t full the charge is too high and would need to be lowered.

        1. “If the carpark isn’t full the charge is too high and would need to be lowered.” What are you trying to optimise, though? Occupancy of the carparks? I don’t think that is the right approach to maximise modeshift nor access. Remember, these carparks were built on poor land use principles to start with.

          The simple answer to John is that this is actually a myth, and it’s what has led to the building of too much park and ride in the first place. In practice, we’ve seen in Auckland that the number of people using the carparks is much lower than the people using the stations. The carparks cause poor walkability and connection, hindering more people’s journeys than they are helping.

          And where people would be pushed to drive the whole way instead, the solution is to price the carparking properly where they’re going.

        2. Heidi – I was just replying in the context of it being a carpark. Of course a more optimal use would be high density living, although I’m not sure how appealing this is in Albany.

        3. You have the weird street layout, which will make public transport forever awkward. You could say awkward PT it is set in stone over there (apologies to the author of the previous post).

          But still, for high density living being appealing or not, it is currently a lot of paddocks, most of which are on the side with an easy walk to the NX station. It will depend on what we build over there. The existing mall is kind of bleak without a car, but it doesn’t occupy that much of the area.

          IIRC the P+R is in fact full and parking degenerated into a chaotic free-for-all stage a while ago already, see for instance

  11. People are very sceptical about residents’ parking zones…until they have one and realise they can always park. $70 per year is an absurdly low fee, yet it does influence people’s choices whether or not to own a car.

    1. Put half the residential zone permits up for auction and then we’d learn how much people were prepared to pay. If I worked in Britomart I’d happily bid well more than $70 pa for a permit that let me park in residential Ponsonby all day.

    2. I’d be interested in data on that, George. Clearly there’s a possibility that the hassle of having to do the paperwork to get a permit increases the cost slightly above $70. Still, in the context of owning a car (with all its hassles) I would’ve thought this paperwork + $70 hassle is pretty minor.

      But I do love to see data about how even small charges reduce driving or ownership. The true value to people often turns out to be much lower than the angst would suggest.

      1. $70 is absurdly cheap. I seem to remember paying about $150 per year in Mt Victoria, Wellington about 15 years ago.

      2. Imagine the shock if just filling up your tank once costs more than $70.

        Meanwhile to accommodate all that parking the city is full of streets that are 11 to 13 metres wide instead of 5 to 7. How much extra are we paying for maintaining that? Or maybe that is why we have to put up with this crappy chip seal.

        1. Yeah, have you seen Waka Kotahi’s latest bullshit video on that? No mention of walking and cycling and noise…

        2. The chip seal is definitely much louder than regular asphalt concrete. Also it looks like maybe we are not doing it properly. My street got done 2 years ago. It took like an entire year until everything around the street was not full of loose pebbles anymore. And whatever we are using to lay chip seal seems to create two lines with weak spots, where much of the new stuff has come out by now.

  12. The strategies that start people considering using PT should be looked at first, these would both increase revenue and if an individual decided to use more PT for trips increase farebox recovery.

    There will be a time when service improvements won’t drive additional PT usage, like now when there is a shortage of drivers and service levels are declining, so we need to find strategies that will incentive additional PT usage, but not wait until there are viable alternatives, the incremental changes need to start with the PT network in it’s current state, rather than waiting for some far off nirvana, that may never happen.

  13. Sell some of the city car park buildings for re-purposing. It might even drive up the return on remaining AT parking.
    I remember that Sydney downtown parking, pre pandemic, was $60 per hour. That didn’t seem to kill the city. Having said that they were building a clever alternative to bring people to the city. It wouldn’t work here, but they called it light rail.

    1. I don’t mind the building. I’d rather have us get rid of on-street parking. Or have more apartments or townhouses which are not marooned in some little parking lot.

  14. A comedian, testing new material, suggested that cars are wheelchairs. It wasn’t funny, but it makes sense. A car is a wheelchair. A driver of a private motor vehicle is disabled. Perhaps this is why they defend public space so much from we, the able multi modal evolutionaries? In any case we are 1.2 degrees on the 3 degree climate change armageddon scale, so tinkering with car parks is no where near the “radical” action required to save us from ourselves. Unfortunately the neo liberal capitalist model may outlive humans, and that will be unfathomable sad and unfair on our children. So much is being lumped on rangatahi and tamariki now, but it is the Silver Tsunami, half the council, that needs to actually recognise colonial legacies that have lead us to this non democratically mandated mayoralty and an elite nimby class that is now holding this city to ransom. A tough reality for those of us who can see some hope in reacting to climate change, rather than “fiscal responsibility”.

    1. Surely the reality is that everything has to change if a 50% reduction in emissions is to occur? Removing thousands of cars parks is more than tinkering. For some people this will represent coronary inducing, unacceptable change. (For them it seems, almost like when a devastating weather event besets us, as it appears it inevitably will.)
      It appears that there is considerable danger in assuming that there is a 3 degree window. If Pakistan floods at 1.1-1.2 degrees, what happens at 1.3, 1.4? This isn’t our children’s problem, it is our problem.

    2. A car functions more as Personal Protective Equipment than as a means of transport. Telling people to get around without a car is analogous to telling people working in construction to stop wearing helmets.

      And arguably this is because we are not running our street network properly, but that is beyond the control of most people.

  15. Fining of drivers using phones and red light runners could plug the entire fiscal hole.

    It could also make a significant dent in the count of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

    Drivers would collectively save millions on panelbeater costs too.

  16. Hey. Forget extra charging. Slash costs. Slash ghost buses. Slash staff. Slash rules and regulations. Slash wastage on silly projects. Slash speed reductions. Slash recreational cycleways. Slash silly town upgrades. Slash CEO,s on silly salaries. Slash, Slash, Slash. Get Council lean and mean.

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