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Auckland CBD parking charges: Motorists to pay for on-street parking 24 hours a day, on weekends and public holidays

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12 May 2024, 6:25 PM

Auckland CBD parking charges: Motorists to pay for on-street parking 24 hours a day, on weekends and public holidaysAnil Ramnath faces paying more than $11,000 a year to park on the street outside his central Auckland apartment under planned changes by Auckland Transport. Photo: NZ Herald / Sylvie Winray

Auckland CBD residents and visitors will be stung with new 24-hour parking charges covering overnight, at weekends and on public holidays as Auckland Transport seeks to collect more money.

Parkers will face hourly rates all day and now through the night, where previously parking had been free in many parts of the city on Sundays and outside the hours of 8am-6pm.

The new fee regime has blindsided Mayor Wayne Brown: "Yeah, well nor did I", he said when the Herald on Sunday told him residents had said they had no idea the changes were coming until a letter dated 2 May arrived in their letterboxes on Friday

"And I'm sick of it. [AT] have got to start listening … I did tell them the other day, 'Don't do that, I want a full parking strategy'."

The new "Central City Paid Parking Zone" covers on-street parking in the downtown area bordered by State Highways 1 and 16, including Wynyard Quarter in the west, south to the Upper Queen St overpass and east to the border with Parnell.

It will be implemented by July, AT said in a letter distributed to inner-city residents.

One inner-city resident feared the changes would cost him more than $11,000 a year.

"The letter was just dropped in our letterbox, you know? And I read it and was like, 'Oh, that's a massive, massive change", Anil Ramnath said.

"It seems very unfair ... and [you have] lots of questions as to why the decision was made without any consideration for people who live here."

There had been no consideration of the impact Auckland Transport's planned changes to CBD parking rules would have on residents, Anil Ramnath says.

Auckland Transport did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Saturday, but defended the new regime in its letter to residents, saying it's been told to take a "more commercial approach" to managing public assets to reduce the burden on ratepayers.

Providing free, unrestricted on-street parking in the evening and overnight also undercut private car parks, AT said.

"This [change] lines up with the concept that the storage of private asset [sic] such as vehicles on public road reserve should not be free."

Brown said there was no question that AT was supposed to increase parking income, or that parking in the central city should cost.

"I mean it's $100,000 to buy a car park in Ponsonby where I live. And so people shouldn't be able to park for nothing all night long, but I wanted to see a strategy about it.

"They're rushing ahead and doing what they usually do, piecemeal stuff without explaining it clearly to everybody ... we should have a whole parking strategy which everybody understands, and is debated."

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown isn't happy with the way Auckland Transport has gone about plans to introduce 24/7 parking fees for on-street parking in the CBD. Photo: NZ Herald / Dean Purcell

'This is really a shocking, revenue-gathering'

Ramnath, who moved into his St Paul St Apartments flatshare two years ago, doesn't yet know if he'll need to move house or sell his car.

The 34-year-old can get to his job as a supply chain operations coordinator in Takapuna using public transport, but his hours can be unpredictable so commuting by car was best.

"We are aware of the situation [with Auckland's finances], but ... when we decided to live at this particular place, we took the decision based on those [current parking] grounds."

His two flatmates were also affected, including Raniera Teira, who said the changes would result in him having to pay for 108 off-peak hours per week that were previously free.

At $2 per hour in St Paul St Apartments' zone near Symonds Street, it would cost $216 a week - totalling $11,232 a year. That does not include the cost of parking during peak periods.

"That's like a whole (apartment) rent and then some - that's just ridiculous," Teira said.

"This is really a shocking, revenue-gathering, game-changer, affecting all people who live in apartment buildings without in-house parking and people who just want to enjoy coming to our CBD in the evenings."

The builder already knows neighbours are planning to move because of AT's letter, something he would also likely need to do.

Like his flatmates, Teira had no problem with the daytime parking fees because they all drove out of the central city to work during the day.

He was not adding to road congestion because he was typically going in the opposite direction to the heavy traffic, he said.

"Everyone's bumper-to-bumper coming in in the morning and I'm just flowing out, and at night it's bumper-to-bumper leaving the city and I'm just flowing in."

"So the parking has always worked beautifully living in the CBD."

The off-peak parking plans follow AT's move late last year to charge more for peak parking, and the removal of half-priced public transport fares.

But rather than bring costs in line with private providers, the new costs would be far more expensive than the $324 per month charged for 24/7 by a private car park around the corner, Teira said.

"You have to remember we're still a neighbourhood in the city," he said, noting residents helped bring vibrancy and community to the area.

"We still have people that want to enjoy their community."

But the new charges meant people like Teira could not as easily relax at home on weekends and public holidays. It also would not be as easy for friends to drive in and spend long periods visiting or joining them to go to nearby restaurants and businesses.

He also questioned whether ratepayers would benefit from putting more pressure on businesses that have been struggling in the CBD.

Landlords would also find it harder to attract tenants, Teira said.

Dean Campbell, who lives at Ascent Apartments in Nelson St, has a car park in his building but also thought AT's move was unfair.

"I can understand [parking fees] during business hours ... and Saturday, even Sunday. But I think public holidays or evenings, I don't see it as being needed, because that time it's least busy."

AT recently paused plans to remove the last remaining car parks for shoppers on Karangahape Road after a telling-off by the mayor in November.

It had also sought special powers to remove kerbside parking for things like cycleways and to charge at park-and-ride stations without consulting widely with ratepayers.

However, it was forced to abandon plans to secure the special powers last year after a directive from Brown called for a "complete change in approach".

The new move to charge for 24/7 parking, however, comes after AT had been directed by the council to reduce its costs on the local government by looking to increase its external income through opportunities like raising parking charges and fees.

- This story was originally published by the New Zealand Herald.