This guest post by George Weeks originally appeared on The Spinoff and is reposted with kind permission.

It might seem like a good deal, but toll-free roading results in congestion and free parking leads to frustrated circling. Drivers end up paying with their precious time – and the social cost is huge. 

Any advertiser can tell you that 86% of decisions are made on an emotional basis. We buy things because of how they make us feel. The use of a diamond ring is pretty close to nil, but it can carry a lot of sentimental weight. A sports car is less practical than a station wagon, but sells for a higher price. The shirt embroidered with a tiny polo pony costs almost as much as an actual horse. And so on. Emotional reactions really matter.

We urban designers and planners aren’t always terribly good at recognising this. Of all the emotive issues that we encounter in our professional life, absolutely nothing comes close to car parking. This is because we are trained to consider parking in a context that is technical, not psychological.

A rare image of parking enforcement in central Auckland.

Here’s a true story from Brighton. Well, Hove, actually – a British seaside locale with regular rail service to London where people like to retire. In 1975 my grandparents downsized to a flat near Hove seafront, which at the time came with unrestricted on-street parking. It was a busy neighbourhood near Hove Town Hall and many local shops, so there were never enough parking spaces to go around.

This led to bizarre behaviour. The eight square metres of kerbside space outside my grandparents’ flat was dubbed “Grandma’s parking space” and was guarded with the zeal of a gamekeeper watching their pheasants before a shooting party. Grandma’s Fiesta Ghia deserved to occupy this space, and woe betide any other vehicle that dared to use it. On the rare occasions Grandma’s Fiesta was driven away from its parking space it was a sure bet that THE ORANGE CAR (a nemesis akin to the Reliant Regal in Mr Bean) would sneak in and steal the parking spot. Grandma would thus hardly ever drive. She preferred chatting to interesting people on buses.

Not orange, and not a Regal (it’s a Robin), and not as far as we know parked outside George’s grandma’s house, but nevertheless an illustration of the situation. (Wikimedia Commons)

Like anything that’s freely available, free car parking is over-consumed. A total absence of kerbside restrictions ironically often leads to greater time lost and more inconvenience. Any visit to Grandma’s involved long and tedious drives up and down the avenue looking for that one remaining unoccupied space.

Free parking is one of these ideas that looks good on the surface, but can often be problematic. Parking spaces are expensive to provide and any under-supply leads to a queue-based rationing system, akin to waiting in line for a standpipe during a water shortage.

The hidden cost of ‘free’ roads

Free roads don’t make much more sense, particularly in cities. While the registration on my car’s windscreen shows I’ve licensed my car for road use, it gives me no more guarantee to unoccupied road space than any other road user. Try driving a car in the Auckland morning rush hour —  the “freedom of the open road” so beloved of car advertisers quickly dissipates into a sea of brake lights and frustration.

Contrary to popular perception, Auckland does have a congestion charging system. Every person stuck in traffic pays with their time. In one sense it is kind of equitable – a brand-new Ferrari 812 is no more immune to congestion than my venerable Honda. On the other hand, the time cost is typically paid by those who have little control over what time of day they make their journey, due to work demands, family commitments, and so on. For every employee unable to be flexible in their working hours, this is purely wasted time, literally up in smoke.

If you take a look at the diagram below which shows the social cost of congestion, at X, the social cost of road travel starts to include congestion impacts on other motor vehicles.  If travel demand increases to Y, the congestion costs are shown by the blue triangle ABC. This is a deadweight loss – it cannot be used for anything else.

Diagram showing the costs of congestion (Source: ascelibrary.org)

Many cities have some form of city-centre congestion charge, in which motorists pay to drive in heavily congested areas; Sydney has its toll tunnels, while Singapore has done this in one way or another since 1975. Oslo introduced congestion charges in 1990, London in 2003, Stockholm in 2007 and Milan in 2013. In 2023 they will be joined by New York City. Opposition to congestion charges in New Zealand often claims it is “anti-car” or a “war on the motorist”, but this is daft. If traffic is reduced, life is much easier for the remaining traffic. Think of how much more pleasant it is to drive in a big city during the school holidays when traffic is about 20% lower.

As soon as roads aren’t free at the point of use, people think more carefully about whether or not to use them. Most excitingly, money collected through a congestion charge can be invested in public transport, addressing our city’s considerable transport inequity. Imagine harnessing the energy of Auckland’s infernal traffic jams and using them to pay for frequent reliable buses. New ferries. New railway lines! Rather than forcing people to sweat in traffic every day, we could reduce traffic while giving people genuine alternatives.

More to the point, New Zealand needs to make its transport system less car-centric. Auckland needs to reduce traffic by 50% by 2030. The most effective ways to do this are generally congestion charging, parking restrictions, and limited traffic zones. Rather than making people pay with time, let’s use this as an opportunity to invest in public transport and better streets. There’s no issue with more people using buses and trains. Unlike roads, which are best when they’re empty (i.e. in car ads), public transport works better the more people use it. Nothing succeeds like success and nothing helps like cash.

The emotional reaction to congestion charging is typically one of fear and loathing, generating plenty of angry online comments but very little in the way of meaningful engagement. The same applies to car parking charges. In both cases, as with any public policy, it’s important to show why it is a good idea.

Returning to my Grandma’s parking travails in Hove, the story took a new chapter when the council introduced car parking restrictions and residents’ permits. Grandma’s reaction was initially suspicious; was this just the council’s latest money making scheme? Would it even be effective? How would the regime of rules, permit cards, and stiff penalties work in practice?

As it turned out, the scheme was well run and fair. By managing demand, there were many more spaces and it was easier to park. Most importantly, it banished the menace of The Orange Car from the road. Victory!

Grandma still stuck to taking the bus. You have more interesting chats with random strangers that way.

Meola Road morning rush hour as seen from a bus. If only there were some solutions to this.

Header image: congestion on Don Buck Road, from the GreaterAuckland archive.

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74 comments

  1. Once you are in a car-dependent society it is almost impossible to break out. Building a road has a high perceived benefit/cost ratio because everyone drives and can see the benefit. Investing in PT or a bike lane has a negative perceived benefit/cost ratio since the benefit is zero and there is a cost the car driver has to pay via taxes or rates. Note that this is totally detached from any real economic benefit/cost ratios, cost is perceived as a “constant” (i.e. the taxes and rates you have to pay anyway).

    So the real expected solution to an issue around car parking or congestion is to provide more parking (high benefit, i.e. high benefit/cost ratio) or build “one more lane” to “solve” congestion (again high benefit, here you have the additional assumption detached from reality that traffic is constant, something which is even entrenched in NZ planning). Compare this to introducing charges for parking or congestion which have an additional cost over your taxes/rates with no benefit; the assumption being that everyone has to pay this and will pay this, which means it will not solve parking or congesting (remember: traffic is constant).

    You cannot get to a better outcome via arguments. The only way to get to a better outcome is to go there, i.e. to invest political capital. Once the BRT in Auckland was built the naysayers were proven wrong (“no one will use this, since everyone drives, so high cost (especially to all the car drivers who do not use it) with no benefit”) and the same will happen with the CRL. There is no champion for light rail in Auckland hence it won’t be build (same goes for LRT in Wellington or Regional Rail in Christchurch).

    For parking charges spending political capital is difficult. Your voters are always impacted (especially if you have set it up so that 95% of your voters drive) so you have to go against your constituency. Congestion charging is a bit easier since usually residents get a better deal and you target people driving into your area. So your voters are not as impacted. That is why you see quite a few politicians supporting congestion charging; the problem there is of course implementation.

    1. Political capital is vital. To use if efficiently, invest it where people recognise that there is a problem that needs to be solved.

      London had awful traffic congestion in the 1990s. Ken LIvingstone was elected in 2001 with the promise of a congestion charging scheme. It was duly introduced in 2003 and it worked. London was the place to do it in the UK; other cities could have followed suit, but haven’t* – that’s another story.

      *except Durham

      1. I was living in London when it came in. The change was overnight and wonderful. I started takign the bus to work instead of the tube as it was faster and more pleasant (previously slower )

        1. Exciting! It’s great to live somewhere when major changes like this take place…and you can experience the difference overnight.

          It takes a lot of time and money to expand the London Underground, but more buses, better prioirity and new bus services are comparatively fast and straightforward to introduce.

        2. London’s buses are by far the best in Britain, largely because they were never subjected to deregulation in 1986.

          This has effectively become a nationwide longitudinal study into whether or not buses should be regulated (London) or left to the free market (everywhere else).

          Since the 1980s, bus use has grown massively in London, but fallen in most of the rest of the UK. People use buses all over London because they’re cheap, reliable, frequent and well-connected. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/26/bus-privatisation-public-service-strategy-british-private-market

      2. As a current Londoner, Uber, black cabs and electric vehicles have all unwound the work done by the congestion charge.

        The ULEZ is having more of an effect but that’s more of a tax on the poor then anything else given the way it’s applied and as for Brighton, it’s still gridlocked with traffic, nothing much has changed there.

        UKs biggest problem are the trains, too expensive to use so someone like me who lives in Buckinghamshire as I can’t afford a house in London drives to work as it’s 1/5 the price of the train and just as quick.

    2. “There is no champion for light rail in Auckland”

      You are 100% right and this makes me sad

      Looking at the council or central government, there is nobody putting their hand up to be the one to drive this

      It would be one hell of a legacy project that would ensure that people are remembered for a long time. Of all the Auckland mayors in history, “Robbie” I recall for his ideas to implement proper rapid PT. If only indeed

      Looking at the current council, can’t see anything happening for at least three years. Pretty sure Wayne Brown is going to do nothing of note.

      On current polling, Simeon Brown will be the next transport minister and we will go swiftly backwards. Even if Labour remain in, it is not like any ministers have shown any ability to progress projects that AT/WK aren’t interested in

      So until we need another generation through; people like Chlöe Charlotte, then more roads will remain our de facto choice.

      1. Come back Len Brown. He will be remembered as the mayor who championed the City Rail Link, against all the nay-sayers.

  2. +1
    Vehicle travel is hugely subsidised and cross subsidised on both internal and “external” costs. These subsidies have led to our urban sprawl, car dependent suburbs, and excessive car ownership, usage and need for parking spaces. Until we address these subsidies we wont get mixed use higher density landuse served by a fully multimodal transport system that would be the result of vehicle users paying their full costs of travel.
    a) no congestion tolls
    b) underpriced or free parking
    c) ratepayer cross subsidy
    d) developer contributions for transport cross subsidy
    e) taxpayer cross subsidy
    f) underpayment of health system costs related to crashes (although in a universal health care system one wouldn’t expect full payment)
    g) no air pollution levy related to vehicle emissions
    h) underpayment by trucks towards road maintenance costs
    i) no payment towards existing road traffic noise exceedances (new projects – sometimes)
    j) no payment towards existing water & ecosystem pollution from road runoff (new projects – sometimes)
    k) underpayment by road users towards providing the needed safe travel space required for pedestrians, cyclists and micromobility users that is a simple result of providing eide roads where vehicles can travel at speeds causing death and serious injury. (All road widening beyond 2m is to the sole benefit of vehicle users)

  3. “We” seem to have an attitude to cars,like the US has with guns,(increased access to guns,makes you safer,right?). The road space outside your house is regarded as yours,and any unknown vehicle parked there is regarded with suspicion. Worse,still,is when the vehicle owner is known,how dare they use “my” space.
    To implement “change”,doesn’t require engineers,traffic planners ,etc,IMO it requires psychologists and accountants, nothing changes behaviour faster,than adding a cost to it.

    1. The psychological impact of a parking tariff is enormous. I once went to view a house in Mt Eden, where there was a $70 annual fee for residents’ on-street parking.

      $70 was about two days’ rent – not much money in the scheme of things – but the bloke who showed me round the house clearly felt that it had a decisive impact on his car ownership/use choices.

      1. I would be surprised if that is even one day rent.

        But yeah, see also: the amount of people who are willing to circle around for a ‘free’ parking spot for a stupid amount of time.

        I am not sure if $70 is seen as “a lot of money” though. People pay more than that to fill up their tank. Maybe it is more considered morally wrong to charge for on-street parking. It is not obvious to people that it costs the council anything extra to allow you to park on the street.

        1. Paying for parking arouses ire from left-wing and right-wing commentators.

          Left wing: “they’re privatising a public asset”.
          Right-wing: “they’re trying to limit my freedom.”

          Basically, people don’t like paying for anything if there is a free alternative.

  4. This is nothing new but it is also right. The whole concept is captured in this seminal book by Donal Shoup from 2005 (which has also got to be one of the driest reads around):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_High_Cost_of_Free_Parking
    Should be mandatory reading for any planner, transport planner or traffic engineer. Perhaps every local body politician too.
    Donald Shoup was a bit naive on how easy it would be to implement though. Everyone just puts their fingers in their ears unfortunately. Lalalala, too hard, too much opposition, I like my car, money making grab by councils etc.
    Equitable access to transport is a problem in NZ and would need to be addressed at the same time or else congestion and parking pricing is just a regressive tax. Thanks to the last 40 years of zoning control the most affordable housing in cities (well Auckland at least) is usually at the periphery, where the transport costs are highest and where there are no alternative transport options to the car. We still do that badly – we put in new bus and train stations more than an short walk from housing and provide crap links and encourage driving with park-and-rides. Still need a car to catch the bus.
    So, the first targets for congestion and parking pricing are the central ring suburbs around the city centre. Just need to overcome the deep pockets of opposition. Good luck with that – it’s going well with trying to remove the special character overlay.

    1. Ha ha! I didn’t write this article to be at the leading edge of groundbreaking originality. It’s about relating the principles to everyday experience.

      Prof Shoup’s hefty tome, which I have read, is hugely important but my goodness it is long. Well worth a look for the case studies, e.g. a $300m underground car park at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, which provides free car parking to concert attendees. It was compulsory to build, despite being in Downtown LA, which has plenty of parking, plus buses, metro and heavy rail. Meanwhile, San Francisco, which didn’t require parking, built a whole venue for the price of LA’s “free” car park.

      Here’s a link to a good summary of ‘The High Costs of Free Parking’. https://parkade.com/post/donald-shoup-the-high-cost-of-free-parking-summarized

  5. I drive to the CBD occasionally at rush hour, and the congestion there isn’t as bad there as it is in busy suburbs.
    If you want to congestion charge it shouldn’t be in the CBD, or on the motorways, or in the busy areas. It should be everywhere.
    And it’s really easy to implement because we already do it, increase the tax on petrol so all journeys are discouraged. This tax needs to be in a pot that is 100% used to improve/subsidise public transport and active mode travel.

    1. “increase the tax on petrol so all journeys are discouraged.”

      Nek minute: All roads and parking spaces are congested by electric vehicles.

      In Norway they had to – with the expected backlash – reduce the privileges they had given to electric car owners, because there were too many of them (for example, they were allowed to drive in bus lanes, and were really starting to clog them up).

      In short: a more generic system is needed than petrol tax.

        1. Building and maintaining a system to monitor and enforce congestion charging will cost a lot.
          If the goal is less cars on the road and more people using alternative travel modes I’d prefer to use the systems we have now and start ASAP.

        2. Congestion charging technology is mature. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) has been around for at least two decades.

          New Zealand is a much easier juristiction than almost anywhere because we don’t have to think about foreign numberplates. Places like London have to figure out how to send a congestion bill to Dutch/French/Georgian/American/Qatari vehicles.

        3. And integrating ANPR cameras (that manages a congestion charge) with red light running and speed management means one camera network doing multiple worthwhile functions.

      1. Well the Road User Charges legislation already covers electric vehicles.
        https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2012/0001/latest/DLM3394830.html
        Its just that they have been granted an exemption from paying them (which is currently due to run out on 31 March 2024)
        https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2012/0140/latest/DLM4503606.html
        The exemption is effectively a subsidy to encourage uptake of EVs but future governments will need to decide whether to keep rolling it over as EVs become more wide spread and it gradually eats into Land Transport Fund revenue.
        If the exemption for EVs goes away then they are required to pay RUCs for mileage the same as diesel vehicles. Where it would get messy would be plug in hybrids, since they will still be paying petrol tax and required to pay RUCs too, and its not easy to verify how much they are actually using each fuel type.

        1. Make RUCs universal, and charge a separate fuel tax on all fuel no matter where it is consumed.

          Ideally it’d be all usage in NZ, but I think more realistically would be an import tariff that fuel suppliers pass on (or don’t)

      2. The article is talking about the space that cars occupy (when moving or being parked). Fuel taxes are only part of the story and aren’t relevant to EVs at all. As the vehicle fleet electrifies, we will need to focus on fleet-wide policy, as in Norway.

    2. That active mode improvement can’t just be concentrating them in areas that have pretty good options already.

      You generally can’t propose anything in the West or South without someone complaining that it doesn’t directly benefit the North Shore, which should apparently have every transport option under the sun before anyone else gets a bus lane.

      Generally the busy suburbs are busy because they’re the ones taking on the burden of intensification. Use the funds raised to fight off lobbying from residents groups under the guise of ‘character protection’ and to build brutalist monoliths in the places that already have the better transport access than many of the ‘busy areas’. Otherwise it just becomes another tax on not being able to afford to live centrally.

      1. Where we build is a contributor and another conversation.
        The ‘free’ roads and buildings we have today really are not working.

        1. It’s *the* conversation.

          Give the outer bids feeding in huge amounts of traffic better transit options (and then don’t shut it down for years at a time) and people might start using it. Don’t forget, people’s time isn’t actually worthless, if PT is going to be more effective than sitting in traffic, then it becomes a pretty good option.

          The flipside is you can’t expect people to spend even more time on PT because driving = bad; at that point it’s just punitive towards the people who can’t structure their own lives around an even longer commute.

          We only realistically need to shave 5% off peak travel for roads to flow much much better but I appreciate the climate response calls for much bigger reductions than that.

        2. Yes. Just as water flows downhill, people will do what is easiest. If you want to increase use of public transport, make it the easiest option fo more people.

        3. I was meaning the conversation the OP is discussing.
          Planning for city growth over coming years is important but not a fix to the problem we have right now.
          Building a network of cameras will take too long. Something now would ne nice.

      2. The Harbour Bridge, and some hypothetical extra Harbour Bridge, always get a lot of attention. Lot of prestige points to be scored there. This is pretty annoying for people on the North Shore too — the things that need improvement are much more mundane, like bike lanes, and more bus services on bus lines that already exist.

        Even so I don’t see how anyone can seriously argue we need a second harbour bridge before we have a proper busway or light rail to Westgate and not be trolling.

        There is no meaningful amount of bike lanes on the North Shore, in case you’re wondering. You can ride all the way to the city on a separated path from Westgate, but not from Albany. But bike lanes are so cheap anyway they should just be built everywhere.

        1. Coming soon: separated bike path from Albany to City, via NCI (being built) Cuthill horrid intersection upgrade (being designed) Upper Harbour Drive (being rearranged) Upper Harbour Bridge and – oh – a gap from Hobsonville to Westgate. Ah, well.

        2. 100% agree. Bike lanes should be built everywhere. Reallocate lanes and drop in the separators. Everywhere, basically all at once.

  6. The “free parking” argument is somewhat a misnomer. Very high taxes on petrol and also a portion of your rates is used for roads. Plus a bit from licensing and registration. Yes, WE pay for roads. A new method of funding may be required when (if) all cars are electric.
    New Zealands big car, small truck driving mentality needs to change first and foremost.

    1. What about those that do not own a car. They are paying rates and taxes. Yes they aren’t contributing to the fuel taxes, or the registration taxes, but perhaps ALL funding from roads needs to come from road users. Remove all rates and general tax funding for roads. Find the money from a proper user pays system perhaps?

      1. There are public benefits that arise from publicly-funded roads and streets. The level of service provided to all road users shouldn’t be determined by the road’s ability to generate revenue from private motor vehicle drivers.

        As with most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle.

  7. Great article George. “Showing why it’s a good idea” is bang on the money. Congestion charging is showing you in a very visible way, the costs that your choices impose on others. It’s not saying “you can’t drive at 8am” and it’s not telling you to “walk, buy a bike or get on a bus”. It’s simple a method of saying “you can still do what you do, but it will cost you more”. If you choose to continue doing what you do, then that’s your choice and you might even get there a bit quicker cos others have decided that they don’t want to pay and made another choice.
    I do think a lot of flak that AT and AC get in this space in “how” the story is told, not what the story actually is.
    When AT ran its New Network roadshows, some of the most vocal “you’ve got it all wrong” folk who turned up were in the “my trip could never be viable on PT” camp and they wanted a bus to mimic exactly what they car does. When the team explained that the network isn’t design for everyone and that if it proved a success, it might free up road space for those that it can’t cater for well, you often say a little light bulb moment – “ah, they’re not telling me to use this, but if others do, they might not be on the road when I need to be there”. It’s a subtle difference in message, but really quite powerful.

    1. Thanks Fred. All good comments, particuarly the last one around messaging. This is hugely important.

      Improving a bus serivice does not mean every journey has to be made by bus. But more can, and will be, and this will deliver a better-balanced transport system overall.

  8. It is a stretch to describe the cities that have implemented congestion charging as “many”. If done right and the charges are not excessive, it will get support. However we have a habit of not doing things right or doing things that have unintended consequences. e,g, motorway on ramp lights to help motorway flow sends more people onto suburban streets to either bypass the backed up traffic or the motorway altogether (leading to the Meola Rd queue in the story).
    As for free on-street parking not being free, we are not a user pays society so you can’t be selective re where society costs are assigned to or not. If they were, rates would not be based on CVs but occupancy, income tax would not be progressive; education, health, emergency services would not be free.
    I don’t think many here would support that.

    1. I don’t think this is a “user pays” story per se Stu. It’s about having tools to manage externalities and ideally with the resultant revenues hypothecated back into the improvement of better transport alternative / choices.

    2. It seems a bit of a stretch to extrapolate demand managment for car parking into a libertarian fantasy of flat taxes and user-pays healthcare.

      Public benefits come from things like free healthcare, subsidised public transport…and managing kerbside space effecitvely, via tools such as (but not limited to) the price mechanism.

    1. I think he is William. Those taxes are based on how many kms you travel, not when or where you travel and when or where you park. Both of those latter elements need to be better priced to manage supply and demand.

    2. Excuse me? The article does mention registration fees, and why they aren’t the issue. when it comes to congestion.

      It says:

      “…the registration on my car’s windscreen shows I’ve licensed my car for road use, it gives me no more guarantee to unoccupied road space than any other road user.”

      It’s not a question of registering a car, nor fuelling it. It’s the amount of space a car takes up on the road when being driven or parked

  9. The graph above understates the problem of congestion. The social cost and individual costs shown are for the part of the speed vs flow curve where traffic density is increasing and flow is increasing (Type I congestion). After the capacity point, density increases but flow decreases. The graph is showing the effect of inefficient prices rather than road capacity. Ian Wallace discussed it here https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/resources/research/reports/489/docs/489.pdf

    1. I should qualify that by saying the two parts of the speed flow curve are the accepted theory and what we were taught. I have my own doubts about type II congestion and whether there is a lower part of that curve. It could just be that the original surveys were all carried out upstream of a bottleneck. The Highway Capacity Manual doesn’t show that part from all the survey sites they present.

    2. The graph shows that the congestion costs imposed by an individual vehicle are not internalised and that road user pricing can address this.

      1. Yes on your graph you would charge a tax of B-E to get the two lines to meet. But if type II congestion exists (I not sure it does, I am saying it could be queuing from a down-stream bottleneck), but if it exists then both lines would change slope rapidly and the tax becomes very big.

        1. Indeed – the permutations for variable, dynamic pricing in pursuit of a first-best solution are almost infinite. This chart is simply to illustrate the principle 🙂

  10. I am surprised that this article was originally published in the Spinoff as it almost advocates for a free market. There is no such thing as a free lunch (or carpark) and supply and demand will always determine the price.
    Fuel tax is an indirect price as it cannot determine when and where the car is driven. Fuel tax also cannot determine how many kms a person drives as there are different fuel efficiencies. I used to love my little Daihatsu before I sold it.
    The best approach is to recognize the economic reality of supply/demand determines price and allow for the free market to allocate resources accordingly and reduce price transference and externalities as much as possible.
    A congestion charge is only a half measure. The full measure is to have road pricing based on all roads at all times. Charge so that roads are used at their most efficiency – there was something similar in regard to metered carparks in the city (something like 80% used at any time).
    If we really want efficiency, then we need to privatize the roads as a profit will ensure efficiency.

    1. Fully-privatised roads would be over the top. The public benefits of public roads are considerable, so it makes sense to treat them as public infrastructure.

      At the same time, a road is not, economically-speaking, a pure public good because it is both rivalrous and excludable (very few things fit fully into this category – lighthouses are the best-known example). The idea of a congestion charge is to mitigate the negative externalities of too many people trying to drive in a particular space at a particular time. This can be extrapolated into a comprehensive first-best road user pricing scheme to achieve wider benefits.

      Privatised roads have an incentive to maximise revenue – this is not always a good outcome. Look at how Auckland’s motorway was bulldozed through Newton and Freemans Bay to ensure that there was sufficient traffic through the Harbour Bridge’s tollbooths.

  11. “free” parking at supermarkets is obviously passed onto all consumers in the form of hugger grocery prices, Even those that walk there.

    1. By providing sufficient parking, the scale of the supermarket can be made larger, and you need less supermarkets. This means they have much bigger buying power and lower costs. So overall the grocery cost should be less than with no parking. So obviously those that drive are subsidising those that don’t – so making the parking free is a good compromise 🙂

  12. I wonder if I used to live on the same street as your Gran! This parking hilarity was filmed from my old balcony in Hove https://youtu.be/z0maiqwnT-M

    Whenever someone from out of town came to visit us in Brighton they would complain about the lack of parking, and instinctively want to drive from A to B through town. Nay, I said, we walk bike or bus! Never did I own a car there.

    1. It looks like a similar street – the kerbstones are definitely the same. A universal Hove problem!

      Parking was always tricky. When I was about six I remember emerging from the King Alfred Leisure Centre to see my relations’ campervan (similar to the one in your video) in the process of being towed away by the Council after it had been parked on double yellow lines…no idea how that tale panned out. This was many years ago – long before paid parking in the suburbs. People would squeeze vehicles into any available spot. A VW Transporter is harder to park than a Yaris!

  13. The problem we have, as Efeso Collins understood, is 70 years of “culture”. The automobile has been part of the idyllic dream sold with the picket fence and child killing driveway. Basically the machines have taken over, and humans drive them around. The road toll does not reduce, humans are stressed, driving is a stressful activity. Those of us with the good fortune to have almost left the act of driving behind, and relying on bus and train drivers to fill the gaps between tired legs, the only stress is watching general traffic out the window. If there was any national or local movement against the private vehicle, many fantastic outcomes would be possible. Not least killing less people, slowly, and quickly. Efeso Collins wanted to begin this conversation, but no one believes that Wayne Brown lives in the 21st century, so we progressives are once again expected to hold our breath and hope we don’t get washed away. Acting on reality would be a better solution!

    1. “Those of us with the good fortune to have almost left the act of driving behind, and relying on bus and train drivers to fill the gaps between tired legs, the only stress is watching general traffic out the window. ”

      If that was the only bit of using public transport that caused any stress, then you might have something approaching a point. But for those of us who deal with that reality thing on a more daily basis, it means missed meetings, exams, delayed working hours, extra time at the start and end of a work day commuting, services delayed, services cancelled or in the case of the trains, whole months, years even of disruption to service.
      We clearly have different definitions of what is and isn’t a stress-free experience.

      And if you just want to talk about the upside of commuting and remain oblivious to the downsides, then let me tell you how a broken transport network restricts people’s access to employment, education and lifestyles. Unless you’re doing that thing where you’re pretending that everyone has access to the same levels of public transport that you do, which I find tends to be quite common from people who want to get out of their tree about the existence of private motor vehicles.

  14. Well if anything it goes to show that new houses should be required to have adequate parking spaces so poor gran wouldn’t have to worry about securing a space for her fiesta

    1. Not exactly. This example shows that on-street car parking is an effective form of parking provision *if* you manage demand properly, i.e. using permits, payments and time restrictions in a way that is fair and easy to use.

      On-street parking doesn’t work beyond a certain level of density unless it is managed in one way or another.

      As with anything, it’s a question of priorities. As per the post, this flat was right in the centre of Hove, covenient for shops, the seafront, bus routes, town hall, etc. The neighbourhood mostly consists of big Victorian houses subdivided into flats, so off-street parking is very rare.

      An alternative option would have been to buy a house further from Hove centre, with a driveway and car parking but it wouldn’t have been as convenient and enjoyable a place to live.

  15. Or when new developments are approved, ensure public transport and active modes are available so the new residents don’t need a car.

  16. I was in London last week for the rugby. The rail service from Heathrow was closed due to works. The m4 eastbound was closed due to works and Great Western Rail was on strike.
    What a shithole

  17. Hi,

    I’m mitchel strac. I saw that you’d published a few guest posts on:https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/
    in the past 12 months. Are you still accepting Guest posts/ Paid posts?

    I Need to publish the article on your site with two do-follow backlinks, can you please let me know your best price for each article publishing?

    Hopefully, you can see that I only write thoroughly researched content. The content has a habit of ranking well in the search results too 🙂

    I’d love to share a couple of ideas for a guest post that I think would rank well on Google.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

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