The introduction of parking charges at Auckland's network of park & ride stations could add to traffic congestion and encourage a commuter culture, says the Automobile Association, which thinks it goes against Auckland Transport's aim to create a "shift to public transport".
The objective is set out in a discussion paper looking at putting parking fees or time limits into more parts of the city.
Income from park & ride sites has been proposed to help pay for adding to the 5300 spaces available at the current stations around the city. Spaces would need to treble to about 15,000 by the year 2040 because of demand, the document says.
The AA warned charging people for a space could defeat the purpose of park & ride facilities. "At this point, we'd be sceptical about it," said AA Auckland Transport spokesman Barney Irvine.
"Our main concern is it could have a perverse effect, it could result in more people driving than using public transport."
Fees at park & ride facilities could make it too expensive for people to catch public transport, meaning more cars would end up on the road and add to the city's traffic woes, Mr Irvine said.
The AA would not support the proposal unless there was "compelling modelling to support it".
Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson agreed with Mr Irvine. The park & ride facility at Orakei Rd, which has 178 spaces, filled quickly in the mornings, Ms Simpson said. But she didn't think the numbers were "high enough in our public transport network to start charging".
"I think we should keep it free for as long as possible and encourage people to use public transport." People could end up taking their cars to town, adding to congestion, if they were charged to park before catching a train.
Cameron Pitches, of Campaign for Better Transport, said the proposal would work if the cost of commuting in a private car was still more than the total cost of catching a train and using a park & ride.
"The overall trip needs to be competitive with driving a car; as long as it's still competitive, it could be okay."
Auckland Transport wasn't available for comment but said in the document too few park & rides, high car dependency and low uptake of public transport were barriers to rapid growth of public transport use.
- additional reporting: Wayne Thompson
Idea of paying extra upsets commuters
Iskra Lewis says she is typical of Auckland's southern commuter line users. She cannot afford to pay for parking in the CBD but needs her car to get to the railway station.
"It is not possible for me to walk to a station, hence the need to use the park & ride.
"I know of so many in this predicament because parking in the city is not an option."
The financial administrator uses the Glen Innes park & ride station, which is a six-minute drive from her home.
She said it was easy to find a space in time to catch the 7.30am train to Britomart but was upset at the suggestion that users should pay a parking fee.
Her monthly rail pass costs $140 a month. "If there were to be a parking charge, it should be so if you are on a monthly pass, you park free."
I believe there is a need to get people out of their cars, but if that is the AT's real objective, it seems illogical to set parking fees at the park & rides.
The proposal is absolutely ridiculous and nonsense. No parking fees should be introduced in suburban centres and at park & ride stations. This will have a completely opposite effect. People within suburban centres should be encouraged to commute to the bus and train stations and leave their cars there for no extra charges.
If people have to pay for parking and public transport, then the cost of public transport in effect goes up.
I am a very happy daily user of the Northern Express from Albany to Britomart - and user of the park & ride car park at Albany. Give users the option - park under cover close to the terminal and pay - or park in the open for free.
Liz & Graham McCracken:
They need to make it affordable for the commuters, which does not include paying to park at the park & rides.
With every home owner facing more rates increases, now increases in water rates, and Len Brown's philosophy of "the ratepayers will just have to pay", it's a no brainer that this council needs to rein in its spending.
- Wayne Thompson