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ATs parking strategy update nears consultation

Late last year, we heard about Auckland Transport’s review of its parking strategy. At that time, they were seeking Board Planning Committee approval on the strategic direction of the strategy.

On Thursday, they seek approval from AT’s planning committee and board of directors to put the strategy out for public comment.

To unblock some of the city’s busiest roads and reduce transport emissions, Auckland’s Parking Strategy Project proposes changes to how parking is managed in our city.

Pending approval from the Auckland Transport Board and Auckland Council Planning Committee on Thursday, Aucklanders will be asked to give their views on the proposals throughout April. The proposals aim to ensure that people can move around Auckland efficiently, regardless of their mode of travel.

Auckland Council Planning Committee Chairman and councilor Chris Darby said the draft strategy will enable communities to thrive as parking spaces are transformed to provide real transport choice and make our streets more livable.

“Parking concerns everyone, whether or not they own a car. The space allocated for parking influences the amount of space available for sidewalks, bike lanes, street trees, buses and high occupancy vehicle lanes, as well as the amount invested in public transport.

“These changes to the way we manage parking in our city are desperately needed to help prepare Auckland’s transport network for the future.

“Some of our busiest streets have become full-time parking lots, storing cars and immobilizing our communities instead of allowing travel in our city. It’s just not fair to the people of Auckland.

……

AT’s executive managing director of planning and investment, Jenny Chetwynd, said the parking strategy project would have significant benefits if implemented.

“Auckland is facing significant population growth over the next decade, which has the potential to add more congestion to our roads. Private vehicle use is also a major contributor to the city’s transportation emissions, which need to be reduced. To meet these challenges, we need to reduce vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) and enable active modes and public transport to serve our communities far more than ever before – and that means making space for them on our busy road corridors.

“Therefore, we really need to rethink how we use our road space, and in particular, our main busy corridors. By rethinking how we can use our roads for the movement of people, rather than the movement of cars – or even the storage of cars – our city will become a place where everyone can connect and move efficiently.

Despite all the changes, Ms Chetwynd acknowledges that vehicles will still have an important role to play in how Aucklanders get around for the foreseeable future.

“Changes in parking management will also have benefits for drivers, especially those who depend on our roads for their work, such as the freight and commercial sectors.

“It is important to note that any changes will be rolled out gradually over the next 10 years and individual communities will be consulted.”

It’s great to see AT using bolder and more direct language about the need to change the way our streets work. However, my biggest concern remains the same as last year: this is really just a stalling tactic. Indeed, the “contentious” aspects of this draft strategy were also part of their existing parking strategy which was adopted in 2015, and AT never did anything to implement them. So when AT says the changes will roll out over 10 years, I read that as saying that’s a strategy that won’t happen.

In saying that, it’s a bit strange that AT presents what is effectively its current strategy as a massive change. This, combined with last year’s indications that earlier versions of this review were much less bold, makes me worry that AT is deliberately trying to garner negative feedback so they can narrow the strategy.

So what are the “contentious” issues? There are two main ones that the media have already focused on.

Removal of strategic transport network parking

As the document explains

To ensure these results, the Parking Principles state that parking is the lowest priority use of space on the strategic transportation network. This means that space for projects that improve safety or transport options (such as establishing bus lanes) will be provided by reallocating parking, rather than widening the road

AT initially wanted this strategy to allow them to simply remove parking where necessary, but the council and in particular the mayor balked at this idea and so the project now calls for them to consult the public for each of these roads.

However, they also note that they will only remove parking if there is a plan to use the reallocated space and that “At this stage, approximately 20% of roads in the strategic transportation network are proposed for improvement over the next 10 years“. So not much will change then.

Parking Strategy 2015

The 2015 strategy already covered this, however, noting in a section titled Parking on the arteries

AT will manage parking on arteries by extending cleared lanes or removing parking where it:

  • Inhibits the ability of the road to carry more people (and goods), especially during peak periods, and/or
  • Causes significant delays in the speed and reliability of public transport on the FTN, and/or
  • Causes safety risks for cyclists or hinders quality improvements on Auckland’s cycle network.

Billing for Park and Ride

AT says in its press release:

The draft parking strategy includes changes to how Auckland’s Park and Ride (PnR) facilities will be managed. PnR sites have an important role to play in Auckland as they extend the reach of the public transport system and reduce congestion.

To ensure this continues to be the primary role of PnRs, AT will need to actively manage them as a premium offering for customers. This will include enforcing these spaces and a pricing model to ensure they are used for their intended purpose.

While AT cannot be specific or anticipate the Traffic Control Committee’s (TCC) decision on fees, AT estimates that fees would be modest and in the range of approximately $2-4 per day at the departure.

Ms Chetwynd says charging for PnRs is one option to ensure they remain fit for the future.

From the language above and also in the document itself, AT is talking about the fact that P&R is a premium service, and they are apparently concerned about the use of some P&R sites by local workers, thereby occupying spaces that could be used by PT commuters.

One thing that strikes me as missing from the conversation is how P&R billing can help improve PT accessibility. The current setup rewards those who can get to the station early, and often places are taken by people who live a short distance from the station itself or who live on a feeder bus route.

Because the parking lots are free, this means that PT is less accessible to a wide range of potential PT customers. For example, a parent who might need to walk their child to school before going to work – but by the time they did, the power bus frequency often dropped and with the P&R full , he ends up driving his whole trip .

Parking Strategy 2015

The 2015 strategy also allows charging for P&R, and even includes thresholds for when pricing should be applied, for example that pricing is introduced when additional P&R capacity is provided (which AT ignored), and that they should:

Introduce pricing once demand consistently exceeds the 85% occupancy threshold capacity during the morning peak and viable alternative options for accessing stations are in place, such as frequent bus departures and good parking for bicycles, links on foot


Overall, the proposed parking strategy is good – but it should be, given that it’s just a re-image of the existing document. The only question is what guarantees will give AT that they will actually implement it.

Assuming Council and the Board of Directors approve the consultation strategy, it will be discussed in April.

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