In 2015, Auckland Transport adopted a regionwide parking strategy. It represented a big step forward in how parking was to be managed around the region. The biggest problem with it? The fact that AT subsequently completely ignored it.

In 2021, AT decided they needed a new parking strategy and got to work on refreshing it. Last year, they consulted on their proposed new strategy. The proposal was solid – and it should have been, because while the wording was different, for the most part the strategy was identical to the one we already had.

However, AT presented the refreshed strategy as something entirely new. This opened the door for the NZ Herald and then other media to spread misinformation, suggesting it was all part of a plan to force people out of their cars and on to buses and bikes.

The two areas most focused on in the media were AT allowing for removing on-street parking from arterial roads if needed, and charging for parking at park-and-ride sites.

 Included in the agenda for tomorrow’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee is a presentation given to a councillor workshop in early April, titled: Room to Move: Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s Parking Strategy.

It highlights some high-level outcomes from the consultation on the refreshed parking strategy, along with AT’s proposed responses. Here are a few things that stand out.

Local Board views

The feedback from Local Boards is largely as expected, with local boards wanting a say in any proposed changes to parking in their areas and pushing back against a “blanket approach” that they say “will not suit the diversity of the region.” While 18 out of 21 boards supported the strategy (which three didn’t?),

  • some emphasised the need for a transport response to climate change”
  • many were concerned change is occurring before the community is ready or travel choices are in place”
  • strong concern about impacts that reduction in parking and increasing cost would have on the most disadvantaged”
  • desire to see implementation limited to areas with ‘sufficient’ public transport”
  • support for more / better enforcement, and more parking/ availability.

Manawhenua and mātāwaka views

In recent years, the Independent Māori Statutory Board members of Council have put the spotlight on AT improving consultation with Māori, both those who whakapapa to Tāmaki Makaurau (mana whenua) and those have moved here from elsewhere across the motu (mātāwaka).

The presentation notes that Māori have higher car ownership rates than average, with a car-per-household rate of 2.2 vs total population average 1.91, although the presentation doesn’t specify whether that’s just in Auckland, or nationwide.

Climate, health and equity are key concerns:

  • Parking management is a kaitiakitanga issue, about governance in managing an in-demand resource
  • Acknowledgement of the need to align with Te Tāruke-a-Tāwhiri [Council’s climate action plan], in that car use / parking contributes to air quality concerns
  • Access is a key concern for mana whenua, particularly for less able people, and to key cultural locations
  • Acknowledgement of the complexity of parking management, and side effects, e.g. parking fines can contribute to a cycle of debt
  • We heard from mātāwaka that urban marae face pressures with parking being in-demand and lots of onsite parking with redevelopment. We also heard from Maori healthcare providers about how parts of the transport system work for them in delivering healthcare.

General public feedback

And then there’s the feedback from the general public, under the heading “What Aucklanders Said”. Based on 944 submissions and some follow-up focus groups, people mostly support the strategy. In particular:

  • general support for  “parking management on the Strategic Transport Network”, i.e. repurposing parking lanes for other uses
  • people were “divided” on what to use that space for “with general traffic, transit or bus lanes being more favourably received than bike lanes” – although no data is given on the relative preferences here
  • less support for turning parking lanes into other uses, like “loading zones, trees, wider footpaths, cafe dining” – again, no numbers given on the level of support
  • opposition to selling off-street parking facilities/ parking buildings

One thing that really stands out is charging for park-and-rides, which was “strongly opposed.” This is unsurprising: asking people if they want to pay for something they’re currently getting for free is unlikely to result in overwhelming support, whatever the subject.

The key slide is below. (If you’re finding it hard to read that text over the blue on the background, note that some of the other slides have blue writing on a blue background).

So, what next for the Parking Strategy?

The AT board has yet to approve these proposed changes, but in short: AT has taken their existing and largely unused parking strategy and watered it down even further.

Looking at the “proposed changes”, most concerning is that despite AT saying that people generally supported their approach to parking on arterials, any changes to the strategic network will now take longer and be more likely to result in a status quo situation:

  • focus on more dynamic space, changing through the day [i.e. timed bus lanes/ parking]
  • undertake a business impact analysis for any changes and develop mitigations (including relocating parking to side streets)
  • provide a clear definition of the circumstances where changes will not occur.

In key centres, the proposal is for “less significant change to parking”  – meaning AT will scale back on plans to proactively manage parking in many smaller centres around the region, places like Te Atatu Peninsula, Browns Bay and Howick. This includes the “removal of provisions seeking off-street parking removal” and “a more gradual transition of parking from long-stay to short-stay”.

There’ll also be more discussion and process built into parking management plans.

And in response to the public pushback, AT says it won’t generally charge for park and ride, with two exceptions:

  • a charge for people who park but don’t ride – which raises the question of how will this be enforced?
  • and a premium paid service that lets you book a space, starting with 10-15% of spaces to test the demand. While a pre-booked service is better than nothing, it will almost certainly rely heavily on enforcement – which is something AT has been terrible at.

In an era where both Council and AT are desperate for more money to be able to do things like run more buses, not introducing a general charge for park-and-ride means leaving a fair bit of money on the table. AT has estimated a $3 charge (per day) could have raised $4.8 million in annual revenue:

McGill said detailed financial modelling had not been carried out for the proposed blanket charge which would have been between $2 to $4 per weekday.

However, with approximately 6500 car parking spaces across AT’s park and rides and on the assumption of every space used once per weekday and charged $3, full utilisation would generate around $4.8 million in revenue each year.

However, this doesn’t account for costs associated with setting up, operating and enforcing the system and is a very high level estimate, McGill said.

As I said last year, I think AT has done a really poor job of communicating much of this strategy. For example, on the P&R charges there was no real conversation about how charging for parking can improve accessibility for a wider range of people. And no real discussion of how many people who currently use the park-and-rides often live on or near to bus feeder routes, meaning they have options other than driving to the park-and-ride.

The final proposed change is “Changes to policy wording to provide better clarity and align the [Parking] Strategy to latest Council direction.” What does this mean exactly? Council and AT are surely still directed by existing plans and strategies, including Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, and the transport pathway laid out in the TERP.

The major elephants in the room here are climate, and safety, particularly for vulnerable modes. The 2015 parking strategy  had safety as its number one concern, and it explicitly called for on-street parking to be removed wherever it would improve safety for people cycling.

On-street parking on busy streets especially through town centres creates a foreseeable and fixable risk, as we’ve seen with the death of Levi James and the ongoing DSI from “dooring” incidents. There was also a tragic death yesterday, with a person reportedly hit by a passing vehicle while getting into or out of their parked car.

Addressing this ever-present risk should be front of mind for AT, which has overseen a very concerning recent rise in deaths and serious injuries of people outside of cars, as noted by councillors at recent meetings of the Transport an Infrastructure Committee.

Also, repurposing kerbside parking lanes for micromobility is also a fast, smart, affordable way to roll out a connected and protected bike/ scoot network. This is a no-brainer for delivering climate action while expanding transport choice, as called for by the TERP and other Council and AT strategies and the Government Policy Statement on Transport.

So, next questions:

  • Will Council’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee draw out these missing angles at Thursday’s meeting? Will it direct AT to remember its commitments to safety and climate – and reshape its parking strategy to help boost the budget?
  • Will the AT Board question any of these missed opportunities when it meets next in May?

Catch up on our previous coverage of parking issues

Less Parking, Please covered the case for reducing parking availability to achieve safety and climate outcomes, and why “equity” isn’t the argument people think it is.

Simply repeating “getting people out of their cars” is not a communications strategy, on AT’s clumsy communications around mode shift and the role of park-and-rides.

Too little, too late: what now for safety? on town centre safety changes that prioritise saving parking over saving lives.

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  1. 1) “opposition to selling off-street parking facilities/ parking buildings” – there are good grounds for all parking to remain under transport authorities control. Apart from congestion tolls it is the next best travel demand pricing tool available. It is somewhat absurd that worldwide that parking is often handed over to the private sector breaking down the ability to have comprehensive parking TDM policies. At the minimum transport authorities should be able to set the minimum parking charges in privately operated public parking facilities.

    2) “The other elephant in the room is safety, particularly for vulnerable modes. The 2015 parking strategy had safety as a number one concern, and explicitly called for on-street parking to be removed wherever it would improve safety for people cycling.” – if we are going to have vision zero then most on-street parking (speed limit > 30kmh) will have to go or be reduced on main roads as there is sufficient space on normal existing NZ road corridors. If we adopted a vision zero design standard for new roads then they could have on-street parking where appropriate and where the corridor is provides the space.

    3) It might be possible in the future with better technology to tie the P&R charge to the PT card. The user pays for the parking with a PT card and the charge gets refunded/reduced when the hop on the PT service. Those just parking would have to pay the full parking fee, ideally by the hour with no discount.

    1. Private companies are very unlikely to offer parking below the cost of providing it, so that inherently limits the downsides of losing that control. Councils still have some control, eg. they can charge a certain amount of rates per parking spot.

    2. The land that the cars are parking on has a cost. When a councils provide parking they are ignoring/ undermining the markets. This can’t help but be inefficient and is effectively, a subsidy for car drivers.

      1. Car parks are often used for land banking (see Christchurch) – I think we would also need some kind of land tax or or rates system based on the unimproved value of the land to avoid this.

        1. +10000

          Christchurch has recently created a new rate for city center land that is unused. But it has a million holes, namely that if you just make the parking lot a bit nicer looking it goes back to the low rate. One tier above nothing I guess.

          Councils will never accurately price land banking unless its baked into the core of the system by using land value only rates.

        2. You mean like right now, how that already happens? Sure.

          Let’s just not have AT actively encouraging car use via cheap and free parking when their stated goals are to do the opposite.

    3. Reason why is there is so little faith in public institutions to deliver better outcomes than private ones.

      And I agree. It’s been the better part of a century of underpriced parking from public orgs. They continually shirk any responsibility and refuse to listen to reason. We would have better outcomes privatising it all. Getting AT as it stands to manage it well is a pipe dream.

  2. Agee with charging for park n Ride. Att peak the Harbour Bridge takes 10,000 cars per hour. This cannot increase so charging for park n Ride will not create a flood of new car drivers over the bridge but encourage people to bus the full journey

  3. The park and ride areas built for the Northern Busway were designed to be for paid parking from day 1. It was a lack of confidence on the part of the project promoters that made the parking free. They were genuinely worried there would be too few people on the buses which would have been embarrassing for them. It just beggars belief that parking at these sites is allocated as free to those who show up before the morning peak and non-existent to everyone else.

  4. You should use your Hop card to access the Park and Ride carpark. This can start your journey and irrelevant for people who continue on bus, but charges those who don’t a fee (one zone fare?).

    1. I’m not sure people who provided feedback do actually support the strategy, unless that strategy is to take away parking on arterials and replace is predominantly with another lane for general traffic.

      Sure, some people have mentioned bus lanes, but the aversion to bike lanes says it all. They don’t want the flow of geenral traffic burdened, at the very least.

      1. You’re making assumptions there. I don’t know what the results for this particular feedback was but let’s look at what we do know:

        – AT systematically shirked from delivering the 2015 strategy,
        – AT systematically failed to respond to their own public sentiment surveys – which showed the public wanted parking removed to make popup cycle lanes. Had AT done so extensively, we would have a different system now,
        – AT systematically failed to implement the VZ strategy – which is absolutely clear that safe cycle lanes have priority over parking,
        – AT have systematically avoided using best practice deliberative democracy practices that would have supported them against the media negativity, so that AT – rather than vested interests – could shape the public understanding.

        Here’s how Bill McKibben describes it: “the general tactic used by the opponents of projects—delay it until it goes away—is in effect a form of climate denial. Making the perfect the enemy of the good is, in such a case, more like making the perfect the enemy of anything at all. When you’re in an emergency, acting at least gives you a chance; not acting guarantees an outcome, and not a good one.” –

        I pity the staff who put in so much work on this strategy, but whose work has been ruined by the tactics and the same lack of vision coming from the clay layer.

        1. I have long advocated a move to rating privately owned land used for car parking at a higher quantum – both generating funds for transport projects and providing an incentive to use the land for more productive purposes. This may require a law change but should be easy to administer – the Christchurch rate on “unused land” could be a useful starting point. Small car parks would be exempt (how small?), and most existing car parks would require surveying to establish exactly how much of a given site is used for car parking versus other uses – buildings, delivery access, amenity, public open space, etc.

  5. Were there any improvements in the draft? It definitely has a better narrative.

    The big changes I saw between the 2015 approved strategy and the draft one was that the draft one specifically named where parking management would **not** be happening, thus setting expectations amongst the public of “no change”. This is incredibly unhelpful – it directly hinders the TERP, which requires an open mind to transformative change. Worse, it said no parking management would be happening in those areas *unless problems developed* – but many of those areas were already facing enormous safety and bus reliability problems from illegal and inconsiderate parking. The strategy therefore set a benchmark: a state of unsafe illegal and inconsiderate parking that is preventing modeshift to the sustainable modes has been pretty much been given the stamp of “all good” from AT.

    The draft strategy creates a class society, with people who live in older less-dense developments given more parking rights than people who live in newer denser developments. This is very regressive, and frankly – ugly as sin. If any aspect of this concept was in the 2015 strategy then it should have been removed for the draft; instead it was beefed up.

    Was there really anything in the old strategy that prevented reallocating parking to better uses on arterials? I don’t believe so.

    The only change I saw that was really necessary was removing the requirement to impose time restrictions before imposing pricing. Sometimes time restrictions are unsuitable, eg where people want to stay for a long time, like at the zoo or a beach.

    1. 100% re: “waiting until problems develop” is too late. A proactive approach is required. If AT continue to oversupply underpriced and free parking then the problems that it generates will not be addressed.
      – Developers will continue to undersupply their own parking
      – Residents will start to rely on on-street parking and make decisions based on the assumption that it will be there in perpetuity
      – Then when AT needs the space for other uses it faces a shit fight.

      It would be like DHBs giving out free or cheap cigarettes because some people demand them and then saying they will deal with the consequences in a few years time when the lung cancer develops.

      This approach can only be described as cowardly and negligent.

        1. Would we even know, given the difficulty of monitoring transport emissions, and the lag to when emissions are reported. National transport emissions dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic, and rose a bit in 2021, which was the latest nz ghg inventory…

          Penlink and the all the other sprawl roads underway and under planning mean any progressive measures we take will be pushing shit uphill.

        2. What we now know is that Auckland’s transport emissions are unlikely to decrease with a change of government. National – Climate Criminals -Ute bet!

  6. Is this strategy from before the new CEO?
    What’s the likelihood that it might quietly be dropped in favour of the pre-existing (good) plan?

  7. Asking people if they want to pay for Park n Rides just yet again demonstrates AT’s total lack of leadership and direction setting in the city. Of course there’ll be a big “don’t support” response. If they’d ask another question – “would you accept $50 on your rates bill to build a new P&R that we will then let people use for free”, I suspect you’d get another big “don’t support” response. Just ridiculous – until AT get some leadership with some backbone and commitment to effect change, Auckland will keep on getting these dumb outcomes. Decisions borne out of the clay layers at the top of the tree.

  8. This new strategy like the old is doomed to make change incredibly slow. The need to effectively consult each LB when changes are to be implemented in any area is effectively the death knell of this having any teeth.

    The Parking Strategy itself should be the consultation that gives AT the mandate to deliver a region wide roll out. This would be helpful from both a procurement and delivery perspective.

    The underlying CPMPs should be able to garner feedback perhaps, but the LB having some form of final say is disastrous.

    The Parking System like all other transport systems should be managed on a best practice basis not, based off the ‘I reckons’ off the constituents that elect the Local Boards.

  9. The fact that car operators believe they have the right to park on the street is ludicrous, if it is impeding other forms of movement particularly. BUS Lanes should be full time and enforced, no preservation of carparks tolerated. If I can move move two young children anywhere in the city, safely, using only a bus, train, ferry or cargo bike, why does anyone need a private motor vehicle, that only serves to isolate kids from real life, make the surrounds of SUVs very dangerous for pedestrians etc., and blow poisonous CO2 into every lung that breathes. This is CIGARETTES, SILICOSIS, ASBESTOS, NICOTINE, SUGAR, ALCOHOL etc. mafia ignorance of science, but done by the greatest evil doers in all of history, THE OIL BARONS!!! NO carparks means NO cars, no ramraids, no car crashes, no drink driving. NO CARS solves every single problem that we ever invented for ourselves – ish!

  10. “removal of provisions seeking off-street parking removal”

    Doesn’t this essentially sink Eke Panuku’s urban regeneration mandate. Most of the sites up for redevelopment are off-street car parks. If AT prohibits their removal then it prevents Eke Panuku redeveloping car parks into things like commercial or housing. Takapuna square redevelopment would not have been possible if this had been in the original strategy.

    Completely backwards approach. I wonder if Eke Panuku has been consulted on this provision. Maybe one for someone to LGOIMA.

    1. I struggle to accept that there was any win with the development of Takapuna Square. The trade off was a $30 million car park that on a good day is half full. This single event shows why many Local Boards don’t bring any particular skills to the table except to be bullied by the loudest lobby group, in this case the local business association. If they ran their businesses with a similar rate of return to Toka Puia there wouldn’t be a single business left in Takapuna.
      (My Takapuna business is doing well thanks. How can that be without Council providing “free parking” for my customers?)

      1. Agree, Toka Puia a massive waste of ratepayer money. I guess what I’m saying is that the policy approach implied in the briefing will embed this practice for all town centres.

  11. this is more “strategy parking” than parking strategy.

    Phill Goff sending the last parking strategy back for consultation suggests that having a CCO for transport has been a total waste of resource – if at the last moment its tranport expertise gets deep sixed politically.

    While the need for councillors and politicians to be voted back in trumps sound policy implementation, nothing will change. But clearly, something must.

    Not impressed.

  12. Carparking is extremely popular and Wayne Brown promised to avoid carpark sales. In fact, he directed AT to immediately stop any carpark sales. It is a pity that parking charges are not part of the budget process, so that tradeoffs with other activities can be made. I’ve noticed the same process in Wellington, where the Council annually increases charges for community groups and swimming pools, but keeps the cost of on-street carparking in the suburbs frozen and outside the budgetary process. The desire for market signals seem to end when they affect motorists.

    1. Heaven forbid that government at any level would do something that is unpopular. So we have a country with dirty, stinking waterways; cities where air quality is at dangerous levels; massive congestion; plastic filled oceans and air; and the list goes on.
      And some of the efforts to change things are stopped for bizarre reasons. Apparently Chippie found someone who was going to spend $110 a year to recycle his/her containers. Compare this with the Auckland research where the city (not the whole of NZ) would generate revenue of $190 million per year. Hell, that would buy a lot of cycle ways that no one wants but very many people need. It could even (although why should it) be used to clean up waterways that farmers seem to have a license to destroy.

    2. Isn’t that how politics is supposed to work? Someone stands for office and says they will do what the voters want?

      Some people disagree and think politics is supposed to be a process where a few enthusiasts write a policy that most people have never heard of and then they claim the leaders can’t do something or must do something else because that is what the policy they wrote for them says.

  13. We should congratulate the incumbent government on persisting our one and true cause of revolutionary public transport: Tunneled Light Rail.

    Thanks to Tommy Parker of Auckland Light Rail, tunneled light rail will patronize all our woes and wishful thinking AT has to offer. In lieu of transforming kerbside car parks into cycle, bus and transit lanes, the Labour party must fund Tunneled light rail. Our whanau and tamariki ma of Tamaki Makaurau must embrace the tunnel vision Aotearoa New Zealand deserves.

  14. “Changes to policy wording to provide better clarity and align the [Parking] Strategy to latest Council direction.”

    Has arse-kissing Lambert written all over it. AT’s board are truly a waste of oxygen if they keep rubber-stamping regressive dross like this.

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