Parking enforcement, or the general lack of it in many parts of the city, has been a major issue for many years now. While I’m sure AT will be the first to say that enforcement is not intended as a revenue gathering source, in some places the lack of enforcement also impacts on how much parking revenue they collect as people have worked out it is often cheaper to get a parking fine once every few weeks rather than pay normal parking fees every day.

AT’s parking and enforcement revenue hasn’t changed all that much over the last decade

Increasing enforcement action is obviously needed but one aspect that is clearly in need of an update is parking fine amounts themselves.

The maximum fines allowed are defined in legislation and so outdated are they that they’ve been unchanged for nearly a quarter of a century.

They’re defined in the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999 which came into effect on 3 May 1999 – I’m not sure if they were defined in legislation before 1999 so it is possibly they’re even older.

A few things about this stick out to me.

  • I don’t know what the mix of parking fines is but I imagine most are probably at the lower end. At those rates, with both staff costs and other costs associated with collection it probably ends up costing AT more than they collect, or at least be marginal.
  • Because infringements are set at a national level, it means the fine for bad parking in the city centre, the most valuable land in the country, is the same as it is for parking in any small town across the country even though the impacts of those two are quite different.
  • If fines had kept pace with inflation, they would be around 80% higher than they are today, something like this:

To put that in perspective another way, if AT’s parking enforcement revenue was 80% higher they would have collected an extra $30-35 million and that would make quite a significant contribution to the council’s recent budget discussion.

Of course, you can just imagine the media headlines if the government were to propose putting up fines by 80%. However, even at an 80% increase, these parking fines are low when you consider that the fine for fare evasion on public transport is $150 while some of the parking issues can cause real safety issues. As a quick comparison I looked at a few places over in Australia to see how we compare

  • In New South Wales fines start at A$117 ($129) and for some offences can go as high as A$704 ($774) and in some cases also result in demerit points. For example, parking within 10m of an intersection or on/near a pedestrian crossing would result in a A$352 ($387) fine and 2 demerit points.
  • Victoria’s fines range from A$92 to A$185.
  • In Brisbane fines range from A$71 up to A$575. Again using the example of parking to close to an intersection or pedestrian crossing the fine in Brisbane would be A$287.

It’s time for the governments to update parking fines.

Oh and while they’re at it, how about updating speeding fines which are just as old. Perhaps even change these to income-based fines like in Finland as we covered in the most recent weekly roundup.

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  1. 1) There are equity issues if we push up parking fines, unless we want to move to income based fines.

    2) A lot of the fines could be done away with if councils moved to price-based parking. i.e remove time limits for all meters and time restricted parking and simply price it. Pricing can be doubled after X hours where demand is excessive.

    3) Legal definition of “inconsiderate parking”? Surely its legal or illegal.

    4) I’d like to see RCA’s required to paint the no-stopping lines at intersections.


    2) Is there a legal definition

    1. There are equity issues with the current regime, e.g.

      1) It discriminates against anyone who tries to walk along a footway that is blocked by parked vehicles.
      2) It discriminates against people on bikes when cycle lanes are blocked.
      3) It renders shared space much less useful because it is filled with parked cars.
      4) It is unfair on people who take the time to park properly.
      5) It’s unhelpful for all other kerbside uses, e.g. loading, servicing, deliveries.
      6) It’s iniquitous against disabled people because mobility spaces cannot easily be enforced.

      In other words, the current system discriminates heavily in favour of people who cannot be bothered to park properly and know they will never be punished.

      It is egregious, unfair and needs to change, fast.

      1. 1) Fines are a penalty and should be set at a level that reduces errant behavior.
        2) Inflation is no reason to increase fines if they are working and no reason to not increase fines if they are not working.
        3) Inflation is due to the Government creating too much money. It doesn’t mean people are somehow better off or wealthier than they were 25 years ago.
        4) Fines are not a cash cow for an over-spending public body to use as a source of income when they have failed to show any sort of budgetary constraint.
        5) We don’t live in the type of society where public bodies decide how much money they need and simply increase fines to cover that. Nor would we want to live in that type of society.

        1. Enforcement is a critical component of kerbside management. Judging by prevailing patterns of driver behaviour, the existing enforcement tools are patently inadequate.

          It’s not about “cash cows” – it is about managing streets properly to deliver a liveable city.

        2. Hmm…none of miffy’s 5 points actually hold much water.

          1,2: How do we know if fines are or are not working, such penalties being one of a myriad of factors affecting rates of offending?

          3: Government money creation is one of many factors affecting inflation. Amounts specified in legislation are a small part of government income and expenditure, and much of that is already index-linked (e.g. Super).

          4: What has any over-spending got to do with the issue? Why shouldn’t fines revenue be used constructively, eg to improve transport outcomes?

          5: Who is suggesting that this is the case?

  2. Fines are only one part of the traffic conundrum. Lack of enforcement is a major issue especially in relation to traffic speeding in the inner city.
    Spend a bit of time observing Hobson St and Federal St for example.

  3. Totally agree the fines should be increased. And what’s wrong with revenue gathering from parking fines and speeding? Sounds like a great way to gather revenue until people get the message and comply.

  4. Funny how the way the towage fee was written that it has been allowed to change.

    100% should be at least adjusted for inflation.

    Talk about low-hanging fruit.

      1. Please don’t recommend this. Inflation based price increases are a very bad idea as they simply create more of which they are trying to compensate for: inflation.

        1. The obvious reply to that statement MrPlod is that these are fines – don’t offend , no fine.

  5. What’s the fine for running a red light?

    Whatever it is, stick a red light camera on every intersection in Auckland and you’ll soon fill that hole in the council’s budget!

    There would be the bonus of reducing deaths and serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists, but we all know that alone wouldn’t motivate the council to do anything.

    1. They have been increasing the use of these around the city somewhat. More to come I’m sure. A bit hold up was the Police side of things with their ability to process the images if offenders.

  6. New Zealanders really don’t have a clue on how far behind most other countries, including the one we are supposedly losing all our people to in nearly every aspect.

    Any time anything is bought up, a new ‘controversial law’ and this includes the left and right it leads to protests from the public but it usually followed with ‘this brings us inline with ‘insert OECD’ country’..these fines are just another example.

    The problem NZ finds itself in now is that because we’ve left a lot of things so long, it does sound controversial e.g 80% increase, and we dont have the politicians who are able to comunicate this things along with the benefits very clearly.

  7. It suggests that Matt has a lot of cash spare to pay for the increase in fines as hinted in this latest update. Enforcement definitely but to enforce as a money making or a deterrent when road markings are not clear cut. E.g. bus lane on the same lane as left turn…, yellow dash mines on the side of the road, still I find cars parked there but owners aren’t fined. Or cars for sale are taking up spaces in car park at the side of the roads.
    I think get that right then talk about increasing and enforcement. I also think their should be some level compassion considered in the enforcement.

    1. Have you spoken to parking wardens? I’ve spoken with dozens and they’re some of the nicest considerate people I’ve met. The amount of physical and verbal abuse they receive I’m always surprised by how cheerful they can be.

      They normally allow a 5-10minute grace period if cars have overstayed the time limit. Matt’s suggestion of income based fines would also be very equitable. Although I don’t know how you get around the business owners that ‘make nothing’ but are very asset rich.

      1. Yes, but most often I don’t see them. Yes most I’ve met are very good people but I think often I don’t see the officers I just see a ticket.

    2. The level of egregious non-compliance is so high that talking about ambiguous situations is trivial and a distraction.

  8. Dangerous and inconsiderate parking, such as parking on yellow lines, too close to intersections or crossings or on bus/cycle lanes, footpaths and clearways – fines should be set at a national level. They also need to be higher, in comparison to some of the the behaviours of dangerous driving.

    Parking in time restricted areas, with or without fees, should come down to the local authority. Interesting that we have private operators, such as Wilson’s Parking, who are happy to slap an $85 penalty if you exceed your time by one minute, yet if you parallel park on the street, the penalty is much less.

    1. That’s private property so they can to an extent do what they like, that said Wilson’s are scum of the earth an operate in an unprincipled way.

    2. Alex, the safety aspect you’ve raised is important. I might go further and say that if there are going to be national fines for anything that impacts safety, they need to be set as high as is required for the location where safety is most impacted. If smaller towns want to argue that safety is not impacted as much there, they should be required to prove it.

      Parking in time restricted areas is perhaps more regionally-specific… except that fines to prevent such parking work to encourage mode shift, which has global emissions impacts, so maybe they, too, should be set according to the location where mode shift could be most influenced. And if smaller towns want to argue that mode shift wouldn’t be influenced there, they should perhaps be required to prove that, too.

  9. If any infringement outside of a metered space results in a towaway, the result is revenue neutral, follows inflation and maintains the safety and function of the road space.

    A fine is a deterrent, but the risk of having to go get your car from the pound eliminates the convenience of illegal parking and works on any income group.

    1. Precisely. A person with plenty of money will have no problem paying a $40 fine. But having your car towed (and having to go and retrieve it) is a MASSIVE pain in the arse, even if you’re a millionaire. It’s very effective at deterring repeat offenders.

      Towing in Auckland is quite time consuming, mucking about with tow trucks, dollies and so forth. AT needs to adopt a speedier system. In some countries they remove illegally-parked cars quickly using a flatbed truck with a crane. It’s like “Gone In 60 Seconds” but for parking enforcement.

  10. If you want them to go up savagely, just privatise things and sell it to Wilson Car Parking – those guys are awful ! I have had two tickets from them – one was an $85 fine for under half an hour. Criminal. But at least it has made sure that I will never park in a Wilson Car Park again, ever, if I can help it.

  11. Change the Land Transport regs 1999 to say : the top levels of fines listed here will not apply to any RCA where an urban development zone is in force.

  12. Index linking of fines (and all other monetary amounts in legislation) would be good, as would income linking. To many people, low infringement fees are just petty cash, with no real consequences.

    But moving-vehicle offences should be more linked to the ability to drive – penalty points leading to loss of licence or loss of vehicle, and thinks like loss of mobile for using it while driving. The inconvenience etc of such losses, not only to the driver but also (if relevant) to the owner of the vehicle/phone that they are using, would help ram home the importance of sticking to the rules.

    BTW, charges levied by private bodies like Wilson parking are not fines!

    1. Index linked prices and benefits mainly drives a feedback loop that generates more of the problem it is trying to solve – inflation. Please don’t apply this lazy thinking approach.

      1. Thanks. MrPlod!

        Talking of lazy thinking, have you bothered to check what are actually the causes of inflation? BTW, much benefit payment is already indexed, and no-one is proposing removing that as a means of tackling inflation.

  13. Economics: infringement fines need to be sufficient to cover the cost of enforcement. Mobile camera enforcement helps towards keeping the cost down but still the current fines fall far short of enforcement being affordable to RCAs. Unpaid fines don’t help that.
    Politics: while some libertarian/ privilege-based views oppose social outcomes through regulation, cross-party agreement to make sensible changes is difficult and single-party action is nearly impossible.

    1. That Economics heading should be Finance: the economic benefits of enforcement (increased safety, mode shift etc) are much, much greater than the costs of such enforcement.

      Single-party action has certainly been possible for the last three years.

  14. Personally I would rather see concrete block enforcement of car free zones.

    The fact that drivers continue to see grass, footpath and anything not behind a bollard as a plausible tokapuia is not only detrimental to the climate, but makes these places more dangerous for pedestrians, and particularly young children.
    Truly poor people do not own a motor vehicle; that is international reality. To claim that penalising machine operators more appropriately for their careless attitudes would hurt the lower socio economic class; misses the point that it is capitalism itself, as a continuation of colonialism, that has further exacerbated historic injustices.

    All town centres should be devising plans to keep the cars on the periphery so that neighbourhoods and community can be reestablished. We are all too isolated, and isolation leads to division, divisions that re not real, but created by inability to gently discuss our differences of opinions with others.

    As “revolutionary” public transport user, I cannot understand why anyone would want do drive. It is so relaxing to not have to worry about anything except not sliding off your seat when your body reaches such a degree of relaxation that you mind actually stops whirring. Auckland is riddled with parking buildings, if we were Singapore we would be making better use of our limited space, but instead those in power propose further destruction of rural areas.

    Our City and Our Country cannot maintain it’s status if we do not reduce our carbon output and in Auckland the vehicle fleet is largely responsible.

    We can point our fingers at farmers but educated city folk should know much better!!!

    1. This is a good point, although in a lot of places having physical barriers would impede Council services, like cleaning and berm mowing, from being done efficiently.
      Sometimes people put up physical barriers themselves only to see them removed for logistical reasons like this.
      The whole streetscape needs to be designed with existing systems in mind, and so it’s difficult to address parking as a modular piece of work.

  15. Create an app where anyone can upload photos of vehicle and parking sign. Give them 10% of the fee, the council gets 90%
    The city will no longer have a budget deficit.

    1. Good idea in principle, but with a few fishhooks… Wellington’s Fixit app can already be used in this way to alert WCC of offences being committed.

      A good start would be to take a leaf out of Melbourne’s book, where I believe trams have cameras to catch offenders against tram priority, and put bus-lane enforcement cameras on buses.

  16. For context, the cost of renting a parking spot in the city centre is almost certainly higher than $60. You can get one ticket every week, and it will still be cheaper than renting.

    Even with our current low fines, that calculus changes if you get caught almost every day.

    1. Unfortunately, that situation already occurs – there are people (who can afford it!) who treat parking fines as parking fees.

  17. In a meeting yesterday I was given an observation about the car that goes around ticketing parked cars for expired registrations and for parking in residential permit areas without permits.

    Apparently, these cars move around and don’t simultaneously ticket the vehicles with two wheels up on the footpath. This is undoubtedly linked to the fact that the guidelines AT has created for enforcement staff to follow are lax and simply not in line with the legislation.

    It’s not that AT receives insufficient revenue from fines to be able to enforce adequately. It’s that AT willingly wastes the resources they put into enforcement – like running these automatic ticketing cars ineffectively.

    AT don’t care about the safety aspects.

    They also won’t do efficient, area-by-area, proactive enforcement, which would absolutely 100% generate sufficient revenue to fund the enforcement. Nor have they done a business case to decide between such proactive enforcement and the “respond to an individual case” enforcement they do now – in which they *literally* turn up to an egregious situation involving dozens of illegally parked cars, and choose to attend only to the one that was reported.

    AT are wasting our rates. There’s plenty they can do to fix the situation without the government needing to raise fines. They don’t for purely ideological reasons. Fines should also be raised, of course.

    1. Not only do they not ticket these cars when in the area, I’ve watched a parking warden specifically tell a driver it was OK to park worth two wheels across the pavement (close to a school, on a walking bus route and at school pick-up time at that). It was only after I went over to complain about the parking of said vehicle that he changed his mind and advised the driver that wasn’t OK.

  18. We could start by doubling fines, wouldn’t be out of the question, then take it from there. Ridiculous they 25 years+ out of date.

  19. You are in for a real treat with this! This is without a doubt the most incredible piece of writing I’ve ever read. Because of you, it is turning out to be a much better day.

  20. So the fine for driving in a bus lane is $150 but the fine for parking in it – which creates a much bigger issue – is only $60? That doesn’t make sense.

    Agree that the (infrequent of having to pay a) fee is often cheaper than paying for parking, but generally I think the active enforcement is more important than putting up the fees for the time-based offences. Put up the fees for parking illegally for sure.

    Also can we give local authorities the power to put up speed and red light cameras wherever they want (and keep the revenue)? The lack of speed cameras makes speed limits more of a suggestion, we need way more. The CBD for example is mostly 30kph, I don’t see that enforced anywhere.

  21. I bike home everyday along a park hour (3-6pm) bus lane in CHCH. It’s unusual to see no cars parked in it, and on a busy Friday at 530 you can get 20-30 cars parked in the couple blocks the land runs for. There are so many signs, but people don’t care. That the fine for intentionally leaving your car in an active transit lane is only $60 is a joke. If the fine was $600 it would be entirely reasonable.

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