A $1 hike in hourly parking prices in Auckland has been derided as “another blow to motorists” already coping with increased fuel taxes and rising petrol prices.
Parking prices in the city will increase by $1 an hour from next week, after “clear direction from Mayor Wayne Brown to review” the charges.
Auckland Transport (AT) has announced hourly rates for on-street parking and at car park buildings it manages will go up from Monday, August 28.
The Automobile Association’s (AA) policy director for transport and advocacy, Martin Glynn, told the Herald the price hike would be particularly hard on people relying on street parking for work, education and appointments in the city.
“Parking is an essential part of access for most trips Aucklanders make,” Glynn said, “and prices need to be affordable so that people can still get where they need to go.”
Auckland’s central city business association, Heart of the City, echoed Glynn’s concern, saying parking was an important element of the wider transport offer.
The daily weekday price cap at the Downtown Car Park will drop from $40 to $24, a move to address its low use during the week. The cap for evenings and weekend parking, however, will increase from $10 to $15.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck told the Herald parking price adjustments should be aligned with demand.
“And the reduction of the daytime rates for Downtown Car Park reflects this,” Beck said, but asked for more data on occupancy rates during nights and weekends.
“This is a popular carpark and it offers competitive rates, supporting our evening economy. With later night public transport offerings not yet as good as they need to be, we’d like to ensure this change in price doesn’t become a deterrent for [visitors].”
It is the first time region-wide parking prices have changed in over a decade, AT said.
Brown sent a Letter of Expectation to AT last December, saying “one key area AT should investigate is increasing revenue from parking” as part of reducing its reliance on ratepayer funding.
AT’s executive general manager of service delivery, Andrew Allen, said the hikes would bring parking prices in line with public transport fares.
“We have had strong feedback from many Aucklanders that if we are reviewing the cost of our public transport fares each year, we should be doing the same for our parking charges,” Allen said.
“These changes are also consistent with AT’s Room to Move strategy which outlines how Auckland’s management of parking can help improve the efficiency of our roads, while keeping parking options available for Aucklanders who need them,” he said.
“The extra revenue generated each year will go towards covering AT’s operating expenses, including for running Auckland’s public transport network and continuing to deliver road safety programmes.”
AA’s Glynn said they accepted there was a need for more revenue for the city’s transport system, and parking needed to be considered in that.
However, Glynn said, “too much focus on revenue-gathering risks compromising access”.
“Prices need to be set at a level that does not act as a barrier [to] enabling people to access activities and services, ensures there is sufficient parking available for people who need it and [which covers] AT’s costs of providing it,” he said.
“[The increased prices] are another blow for motorists to cope with on top of the removal of the fuel excise discount and the end of June, and rapidly rising petrol prices since then,” Glynn said.
The announcement comes after the Government last signalled a 12-cent hike to petrol taxes in order to help fund a slew of new transport projects.
Those projects include a new Northwestern Busway, rail improvements and road maintenance as part of the Government’s new $20 billion transport budget, announced last Thursday.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown and the AA lauded the critical roading and public transport projects the increased taxes would fund.
As part of AT’s parking announcement, free weekend parking will be trialled at the Toka Puia car park in Takapuna.
While price caps will change for the Downtown Car Park, there will be no change at other AT parking facilities.
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.