Further background on parking management in Wellington City
Wellington City Council adopted its first Parking Policy in 2007 to manage scarce public road space in a fair and balanced way that would benefit the city. It set overall principles and location-specific policies to guide the direction of our management and influence over the parking system. With less parking available, how the Council manages its remaining parking supply is even more important.
The 2007 Parking Policy established the intended main use for on-street parking for different areas. On-street parking in the central city and suburban centres firstly supports retail and entertainment facilities, and secondly allows for servicing and deliveries to buildings. On-street parking in the inner and outer suburbs mainly supports people who live in these areas so residents’ parking is prioritised over commuter and short-term parking.
The parking management tools (ways we manage parking) vary across the city in order to support the intended main use for different areas, as set out in the Parking Policy.
The range of methods we use to manage on-street parking includes: clearways, time limits, meter charges, class (type of vehicle) restrictions, coupon parking zones, and residents parking zones. For metered spaces, parking fees range from $2.50 to $4.50 per hour and time limits range from 2 to 10 hours.
The 2007 Parking Policy adopted the internationally accepted standard of 15 percent vacancy (85 percent occupancy) as a target for our on-street parking. At this level, people can expect to find a park easily and the use of valuable street space is maximised.
What do we want to achieve with an updated parking policy?
We are looking for an updated parking policy that:
- Provides guiding principles for the management of on-street and other Council-controlled parking, including mobility parking that are aligned with the wider vision for the city.
- Is responsive to increasing parking pressures, flexible enough to respond to changing transport behaviours and makes use of evolving technology where appropriate.
- Enables a consistent approach to managing parking across the city that is clear and easy to understand.
The hidden costs of parking
Demand for parking is exceeding supply
Demand for parking is increasing due to population growth (both within the city and in region), urban development, increased car ownership and many Wellington residents, commuters and visitors still rely on driving to get around. There is a tension between parking supply, availability, the use of public space and parking affordability. At the same time the supply of parking has decreased because of space being used for other things, such as construction work; road space used for alternative transport modes; the impact of the earthquake on parking buildings; and the increasing need to provide space for car share and electric vehicle charging.
There is also competition for on-street parking between the various users of the parking system, for example between residents, commuters, motorcyclists, people with disabilities, shoppers and delivery drivers. This varies from area to area, times of day and days of the week. There may be opportunities to make better use of the space set aside for parking to ensure no parking spaces are ‘wasted’ (left empty for prolonged periods of time).
Different parking management approaches
Many European and American cities are using a range of different strategies to manage parking. Zurich, Hamburg, Oslo and New York have capped their total parking supply and London, Copenhagen and Paris are actively reducing the number of parking spaces. Tokyo has no on-street parking. These actions were mainly driven by air quality requirements, to reduce congestion, to encourage use of public transport and to stop cars driving into historic centres. Other approached to managing parking include:
Parking mainly benefits the person using it and fees could reflect that. This could mean parking prices reflected the real-time market demand for the space, the cost of providing the infrastructure and the opportunity cost of the loss of space for other uses.
Another option is dynamic or variable, market-based pricing where prices go up or down depending on demand at a particular time and in a particular area. People would pay for the time they use the space. Dynamic pricing generally means street space is used more efficiently, congestion reduces and there are opportunities to repurpose parking space for other uses.
For example, the Gold Coast varies the cost of parking at various times, depending on demand and puts 50 percent of the revenue from parking fees towards improving public transport. Perth uses the income from their parking fees to provide free city centre bus travel. Nottingham City Council is the first council to introduce a targeted rate on private business parking. The revenue has funded a new light rail system.
Space use is prioritised and targeted
The Council could prioritise its parking supply to ensure people who cannot easily use public transport or active transport (such as walking or cycling) can easily get to essential facilities and services and to maintain the economic viability of retail centres. This could mean any of the following:
- an increase of mobility parking and other designated-user parking spaces in certain areas,
- parking at Council sports, parks and recreation facilities is prioritised for people using the facility
- short-stay parking is provided in the central city and suburban centres
- long-stay/commuter parking is discouraged in certain areas and/or
- residents without off-street parking are prioritised with residents parking zones.
Making sure the current parking is properly used
In order to maximise the use of a limited resource the Council could make sure each space is used for the maximum amount of time, and that everyone has fair access to the spaces. This would mean continuing to enforce overstaying, permit parking and illegally parked vehicles. Where practical some parking spaces could be used for other things at different times, depending on demand. Applying an area-based approach when making decisions about changing parking management could help to manage overspill effects.
Improve information and use technology
New ways to pay, digital signage, real-time data and other technological innovations could help the Council to deliver its parking service more transparently and efficiently and could improve the user experience. Providing more information to the public about where, when and how long they can park will reduce congestion and should help people decide how to travel.
What options are there for different ways to charge for parking?
One option is dynamic pricing. This is a system that can react to demand for parking. Under this system charges are based on historical averages and how much current activity is varying from those averages. Based on the exact time and day, if the current parking space occupancy is lower than expected, discount prices can be put out. If the parking space occupancy is higher than expected, higher rates can be set. This method seeks to balance the supply and demand and improve the parking experience for customers. In Los Angeles, prices for parking are lower with dynamic pricing in 60 percent of parking spaces and higher in only 27 percent of spaces. San Francisco also has this system in place.
However, the Council must follow set consultation and notification procedures and timeframes before making significant changes to fees. Therefore, even if the Council had the technology in place, under the current legislation and bylaw, it is not possible to have dynamic pricing.
Another option is demand responsive pricing. This is similar to dynamic pricing and works by splitting the city into ‘parking areas’ with rates varying to reflect the demand for parking in each area and at peak and off peak times. At regular intervals, the prices are readjusted based on the occupancy levels observed in the previous quarter. The aim is to achieve 85 percent occupancy. Auckland City has demand responsive pricing in some parts of the city.