Park and ride user pays mooted

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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Motorists may have to pay for park and ride carparks to allow them to expand, North Shore local body politicians say.

Council controlled organisation Auckland Transport (AT) has floated the idea in its 60-page parking discussion document. It aims to generate feedback which will help craft a masterplan for Auckland's parking strategy yet remain flexible to individual areas' needs.

Upper Harbour Local Board member Lisa Whyte says although she's concerned about the introduction of fees, the escalating costs of building park and rides needs to be met.

"The only way to get parking facilities we desperately need is to introduce a payment regime."

But North Shore councillor George Wood questions where fees collected would go.

"The bottom-line is AT is out to collect funds," Wood says.

Wood believes Auckland Transport is "on its knees" in a race to come up with funding ideas to meet mayor Len Brown's "crazy early start date for the City Rail Link".

Whyte disagreed, saying strict rules would prevent such abuse. "I'd like to remind George that AT's statement of intent set by Auckland Council compels AT to feed parking-related fees back into public transport."

The North Shore's other councillor, Chris Darby, agrees any future pricing shouldn't be a revenue-raiser, saying it needs to be based entirely on demand management.

Public-private partnerships need to be considered to fund expanding park and rides, he says.

Transport Blog contributor Matt Lowrie says changing the way park and rides are managed is important, encouraging a shift to public transport.

"But the only real lever on park and rides is cost."

North Shore commuters enjoy free parking at park and ride facilities at Constellation Drive, Albany, Devonport, Birkenhead and Northcote Pt. Most of these car parks are full on weekdays by 7.30am, the tranport agency says.

Bona-fide users like shift workers and students are hurt by the first-in-first-served pattern, forcing them to drive into the Auckland CBD, Lowrie says.

The problem is compounded by 'hide and riders' forced into sidestreets bordering the full-up, free parks, the agency says.

Introducing fees would encourage people to try other means of getting to and from public transport hubs, Lowrie says.

Lowrie cites the similar sized Canadian city of Calgary's successful introduction of fees for park and rides.

Despite trialling various fee-levels over five years, Calgary public transport numbers haven't dropped, he says.

Go to at.govt.nz and search for the keyword "discussion" to read the document and make a submission.

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- North Shore Times

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