Cow of town to park cheaply

BY BRUCE HOLLOWAY
Last updated 05:00 23/05/2009

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Hamilton's central city off-street car parking is expensive compared with the $1 an hour rates in Rotorua and Tauranga.

But it's a snip compared with the eye-watering extortion that occurs in Auckland, where top whack is the $15 an hour Wilson Parking charges on weekdays at its Hobson St park.

The Times trawled around Hamilton parking sites in the wake of last week's claims by Rotorua man Matt Wepa that steep charges were one of the reasons the city centre was looking like a ghost town.

Mr Wepa was charged $13 for 2 1/2 hours at Wilson Parking's Farmers Carpark compared with the $3 it would have cost him in his hometown.

In justifying the charge, Wilson Parking said it was based on variables such as the value of the land, security facilities, and desirability of location.

Most central city car parks were well patronised on a Thursday afternoon without being full, and there were a number of options where they offered a deal equivalent to, or better than, parking at the street-side meter rate of $2 a hour.

Whereas Wilson Parking charges $5 for the first hour at Farmers (450 spaces), it was just $2 at Centre Place Carpark (450 spaces), which offered a maximum charge of $10 for anything over four hours. Further, spend $10 at any Centre Place or Downtown Plaza retailer at the weekend and four hours parking is free.

The Barton St (Les Mills) carpark (85 spaces) was also $2 an hour, with anything over 4 1/2 hours $10.

At the Kmart site it was $2 an hour, but with seven hours costing just $8.50.

The underground Downtown Plaza park (360 spaces) was more expensive. An hour cost $5, with a total charge of $13, and the same applied at Wilson Parking's open air pay and display site in central Victoria St.

The 442-space Knox St parking building charges $1.50 an hour, with 12-hour parking available for $7.50.

SkyCity (322 parks) charges $2.50 for the first hour and up to a maximum of $10 per day.

Hamilton City Council transport committee member Gordon Chesterman said Mr Wepa had made a fair point. He also felt parking charges were inhibiting central city shopping.

"There is no easy solution," he said. "Parking can be a big cost, but people have got to get a return on their investment in these buildings."

He said parking charges in Hamilton were a financial deterrent compared to almost 2000 free parks at The Base.

"As part of the CBD revitalisation project, staff are looking at the impacts of free parking.

"I believe there will be further discussion in the next few months over whether it would be possible to consider free parking in the city, though it would have to be time restricted.

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"You have got to avoid it turning into commuter parking and weigh it up as a real cost for those who are using cars as opposed to public transport."

In Auckland 3 1/2 hours at Wilson's Elliott St cost $36, or $35 at the Viaduct.

Just one hour parked at Elliott St costs $12, and $11.50 at the ANZ car park on Albert St.

By contrast, Rotorua District Council's car park at the top of Pukuatua Street charges a flat $1 an hour.

Tauranga District Council had two car parks at $1 an hour. But it also had a deal where, if you left at the end of the day with three or more people in your vehicle, you paid $3 instead of $9 (when parking for six hours or more).

- Waikato Times

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