Call to fight proposed hike in parking fees

AMY MAAS AND CIARA PRATT
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2012

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The New Zealand Automobile Association says a proposal to charge drivers in central Auckland up to $29 for four hours of parking is "excessive" and has urged the public to fight the change.

Auckland Transport, which says it is making the first changes to pricing since 2005, wants to do away with time-restricted parking and charge motorists more the longer they park and until 10pm.

At present parking is mostly free after 6pm.

Under the proposal, motorists will be allowed to park in on-street car parks free for the first 10 minutes, and then pay a minimum of $1 afterward.

There will be two pricing zones – a central city zone, from Quay St to Mayoral Dr and between Hobson St and Albert Park and an outer city zone that would include much of Freemans Bay, Wynyard Quarter and the university precinct.

Between 8am and 6pm in the central zone, motorists would be charged $5 for the first hour and $8 an hour from then on. Between 6pm and 10pm and at weekends it would be $2 for the first hour and $3 an hour there after.

In the outer zone, between 8am and 6pm, the first hour of parking would cost $3 and would then increase to $5. On Saturdays parking would cost $1 an hour and Sundays would be free.

The changes would replace several different price and time restriction parks.

It is hoped zone pricing would encourage short-term stops in the city centre, making spaces more available, and shift long-term parking to parking buildings.

But the focus on short-term parking comes at the expense of motorists who need to park longer, AA spokesman Simon Lambourne says.

The AA has asked Auckland Transport how much money it's expecting from motorists and the reasons behind the changes so it can make a submission on behalf of its members.

Police say those who park in cheaper parking spots will increase their risk of falling victim to vehicle crime.

City Central Area commander Inspector Andrew Coster says people who opt for cheaper parking should expect a lower security level and "you get what you pay for" in the central city.

The police say that parking buildings, although more expensive, offer the best security with CCTV cameras, fulltime staff and barriers.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney says "expensive parking is better than no parking at all".

"The reality is that this is a city that's got cars in its DNA," he says.

"Parking will cost $2.50 an hour and you can stay all night for the price of a Heineken, that's not too much to ask."

He says there would be more on-street parking in the evenings under the proposed changes, as evening workers won't be able to take advantage of free parking after 6pm.

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"One of our attractions in the city is dining and entertainment and a huge proportion of free parking after 6pm is being taken up by evening staff.

"It's nuts that we should have a great restaurant but that access is limited because staff are using the car parks."

He says about 200,000 vehicles moved in and around the city centre daily yet there were only 2800 on-street car parks.

Under the proposal off-peak parking in the Victoria St and Downtown car parks will cost $2.50 an hour up to a maximum of $7.50 to encourage use of car park buildings.

Auckland Transport's parking operations manager Trevor Starr says parking zone trials run in the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, Parnell and Graham and Harding streets had returned positive results.

Motorists were already charged until 10pm to park in the Viaduct, something Starr says had "improved the amount of parking available for visitor use".

People can have their say on the plan until July 1 through the Auckland Transport website or by calling 3553553 and asking for a consultation package.

– Fairfax NZ News

- © Fairfax NZ News

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