Auckland Transport is under fire for stinging motorists who miss out on scarce North Shore park-and-ride spots with new parking fees in the town centre.
The Automobile Association has hit out at the transport authority, saying the city's park and ride facilities are already "woefully inadequate" and the move will discourage motorists from ditching cars and using public transport.
It comes as Auckland motorists are being hit with a regional fuel tax to help solve the city's crippling congestion which is costing the city up to $2 billion a year in lost productivity.
"It's pretty much chaos," Auckland University of Technology student Alice Boyd said of the Albany park-and-ride, where she had managed to get a space yesterday.
"You've got to be here by 7 [am] to get a park - 7 to 7.15. By half-past it's pretty much full."
Commuters say things have got worse since a $1-an-hour fee was imposed for street parking near the park-and-ride facility.
Parking is free at the park-and-ride, if you can find a space.
Auckland Transport started the new weekday, 8am-6pm, on-street fee last week in a bid to help control bad or illegal parking in Albany town centre, where parking is close to capacity. There is no time limit on the $1/hour spaces.
But it appears that charging car/bus commuters and others for 610 free parking spaces on the streets has increased pressure on the 1100 sought-after park and ride spaces.
There are 5863 park and ride spots across the city but 800 new vehicles are being registered in Auckland every week due to population growth, according to 2017 figures.
All the city's park-and-ride spaces are generally taken by 8.30am, and even at 7.30am only 15 per cent are vacant. Albany's park-and-ride has long been a focus of complaints, with motorists who miss out forced to park on grass verges and berms, risking a $40 fine, or find other nearby spaces.
Auckland Transport says park-and-rides are an essential component of public transport, but a Herald assessment last year found they were well down the Auckland Council-controlled organisation's pecking order, accounting for around 2 per cent of the 10-year budget.
Automobile Association spokesman Barney Irvine said Auckland's park-and-ride facilities were "woefully inadequate".
"Stations like Albany are really struggling to meet demand so any changes that lead to an increase in demand are going to have consequences."
"Under the current approach, Auckland Transport is turning people away from public transport. That seems to go against everything they are seeking to achieve."
International travel student Brooke Stevenson, of Kaukapakapa, said she now arrived at the Albany station by 7.20am to secure a park.
"I had to drive into the city once last week. On Monday this week I just went home because there were no parks."
Accountant Sheryn Angus agreed it was "chaos" since the new charges were introduced.
She drops her child at day-care by 7.30am on her way to the Albany park-and-ride. She said she used to be able to get a park until about 7.55am, but since the on-street charging began can't find one after 7.35am.
And the $3-a-day Wilson car park, which has a shingle and grass surface and is across the road from the park-and-ride, was now often full by just after 8am.
"Luckily I'm getting into Wilsons most days."
Angus, of Dairy Flat, said there were no suitable feeder bus services for her to catch to Albany.
"The nearest bus is 5km so I have to drive."