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To park or not to park

Australians love their cars, but they don’t love parking them in our congested cities. There seem to be two opposing solutions to the problem. One is to look for more ways to create parking spaces. The other is to make it harder to park by removing parking spaces. greenslips.com.au will look at each option.

Create more parking spaces

A report by NRMA and DIVVY, Smarter Parking, says a third of cars in any congested urban centre are searching for a parking spot. The report says we need to use technology to find more parking. It offers some interesting statistics:

  • Some 85% of Australians travel to work by car
  • Sydney is the 13th most congested city in the world
  • Sydney CBD has a global low of only 12.2 spaces for every 100 workers
  • It costs an average of $70.85 to park in Sydney compared to $18.21 in Canberra.

The NRMA suggests there should be price reporting about parking, in the same way as Fuel Check tracks fuel prices. It also supports companies like DIVVY, which find under-used spaces in commercial buildings and give users lower rates to use those spaces. Other companies, like ParkMonkey, ParkMe and Kerb, charge drivers to park in underused parking spaces.

Australian start-up, Parkhound, came up with the idea of sharing private spaces. It works like AirBnB, where owners of parking spaces rent them out when they are not using them. (Parkhound claims we spend a whopping 3,120 hours of our lives just looking for parking.)

Another option is to find ways to make existing parking spaces more productive. For example, ticketless access, electric vehicle charging, car servicing and maintenance, and eSafety checks.

Ultimately, the report says governments are responsible in their urban planning for considering parking and how technology can be used to support it.

Take parking away

Parking is a source of anger and frustration. Public car parks and streets are full of cars, signage is inconsistent and restrictive, there are slow-moving queues at entry and exit points, hard-to-use and malfunctioning ticket machines, kerb rage – and no guarantees for a spot.

In fact, many cities in the world are taking parking spaces away to make driving less appealing when there are other options available:

  • Philadelphia took away 3,000 off-street parking spaces from the CBD
  • Zurich capped parking spaces in the city to 1990s levels
  • Amsterdam will remove 1,500 parking spaces a year towards a goal of 11,000 by 2025
  • Mexico City is scrapping minimum parking regulations in favour of maximum parking rules.

Melbourne recently announced a draft plan to repurpose “the equivalent of 20 Bourke Street malls worth of public road and on-street parking spaces” to create more space for other uses.

The same is not true for Sydney. Even so, there are small moves towards reducing demand for parking, such as car sharing. One shared vehicle takes 10 private vehicles off the road. Better still, a network of 100 share cars releases 30,000 sqm of floor in a building or 15,000 sqm of kerb space.

One problem is residents of a building feel they have an entitlement to a parking space, or kerb space near their building. The new practice of selling parking spaces separate from housing means only the people who want those spaces will pay for them. Some developers now provide car-sharing spaces. Meanwhile, some NZ employers who would usually provide car parking provide cash-out options for those who don’t use it.

So what’s next?

The current environment for parking seems to provide something for everyone. People who cannot give up their vehicles will endure congestion and use technologies to help them find spaces. City dwellers who want to use other transport options, such as car sharing or escooters, can do that.

It will be interesting to see if we continue to have a choice or whether, ultimately, Australians will have to sacrifice their beloved cars.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert greenslips.com.au

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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