$35/week extra to park in the city 'a kick in the teeth'
Auckland Transport claims the hike will free up peak-hour sites, but AA says it’s a ‘kick in the teeth’ for drivers.
Aucklanders commuting to work in the central city will soon have to pay an extra $35 a week at three of Auckland Council's inner-city car park buildings.
Auckland Transport announced the 40 per cent price hike yesterday, with the daily parking rate at the Downtown, Civic and Victoria St car parks increasing from $17 to $24 per day from August 1.
The evening and maximum rates will also jump from $7.50 to $10 at Victoria St and Downtown, while the Civic will have a flat fee of $12 after 6pm.
The hourly parking rate will not change, however, remaining at $3 on-peak and $2 off-peak per hour at each of the car parks.
The move has been criticised by the Automobile Association (AA), with spokesman Barney Irvine describing the price increase as a "a kick in the teeth" for drivers.
"We don't think motorists are getting a fair go here. Auckland Transport doesn't seem to understand that many commuters just don't have a choice about how they get to work - public transport just isn't a viable alternative for them.
"Maybe they need to drop the kids off on the way to work, maybe they need to pick the kids up after work, maybe they don't live anywhere near the rail corridor or bus routes. Auckland is a city where people live and work all over the city."
Mr Irvine said the price increases came on the back of a $100 targeted transport rate for Aucklanders.
"So, justifiably, they're going to be feeling pretty hacked off."
Rather than "pricing people out of their cars", Auckland Transport (AT)should focus on making public transport a more realistic option.
"For us, that means making concrete progress on things like new double decker buses, new bus routes, [and] new park-and-ride stations."
Yesterday's price increase comes after the council removed Early Bird parking rates in December, meaning drivers arriving before 8.30am and leaving before the car park closed could no longer pay the subsidised price of $13. At the time, the council said the change would reduce traffic congestion during morning rush hour, with extra revenue being used to upgrade public transport.
But in a statement announcing yesterday's price change, AT said ditching the Early Bird option had not had "the desired impact in changing customer behaviour".
"A further step is needed to assist in modal shift behaviour from cars to public transport, walking or cycling."
It said AT had historically "subsidised people to drive into the city at peak times", which was adding to congestion problems in the city.
AT said it was increasing the prices further to disincentivise people from driving during morning peak hour and this was part of a continuous move towards a "customer-pays-for-their-stay" approach.
"AT anticipates this move will free up some peak hour occupancy in its off-street parking facilities while continuing to provide for short-stay users encouraging turn-over and availability."
Bank manager blasts price rise as 'ridiculous'
An Auckland commuter who pays $85 a week to park at the inner-city Civic car park building near his work says the $7-a-day price increase is ridiculous.
Under the rates announced yesterday by Auckland Transport, the bank manager will now pay $120 a week.
"I believe as long as they have a good transport system then we don't have to bring our cars. So they have to get their priorities right."
He said increasing parking prices would not affect congestion on the roads, but making sure there was enough efficiency in the public transport system would.
"If they had good public transport why would we bring our cars?"
Mt Albert resident Denise O'Hagan, who uses the Civic, Downtown and Victoria St car park buildings, doubts hiking charges will get people out of their cars.
Denise O'Hagan. Photo / Nick Reed
"For people like me with kids, you can't just jump on a train. You still need to be in your car because you've got to get home quickly."