Park’n’ride or Pay’n’ride?

21 April 2022. Rodney Times by Jonathan Killick. Elected members say Auckland Transport’s proposal to charge for using park and rides will disadvantage rural commuters, pushing them off the bus and onto the road.

Auckland Transport is consulting on its draft parking proposal, which would see users of park and rides at Albany, Hibiscus Coast Station and Warkworth in north Auckland charged about $4 a day for parking.

Rodney ward councillor Greg Sayers said parking fees in Warkworth would amount to “double charging” residents, who had already paid for the car park through a targeted transport rate.

Photos: Renee Clayton

 “In fact, it’s triple charging because they’ve paid through their general rates, a targeted rate and a fuel tax,” Sayers said.

Landowners in the Rodney ward pay a $150 targeted rate, which has generated about $13 million. Only $5 million had been spent, Sayers said.

He said park and rides enabled rural commuters to access public transport, and most did not have any other option besides their car for getting to transport hubs or bus stations.

“Charging would disadvantage rural residents and people with low incomes trying to access work in the city.”

At a council meeting in March, Sayers joined Albany ward councillors John Watson and Wayne Walker in voting against Auckland Transport’s draft strategy.

Watson said charging for parking at the Hibiscus Station would disincentivise people from using the bus. “It’s a step backwards, and I won’t support it,” he said.

Northern park and rides are typically full by 8am.

Ōrākei ward councillor Desley Simpson asked if Auckland Transport would simply “do it anyway” if the public opposed the parking plan.

Head of planning Andrew McGill said if people did not like the plan, they needed to “suggest an alternative”.

Council transport advisor Michael Roth said 900 hectares of car parks across the city were costing the council $1 billion a year. That was based on land value and a theoretical 6 per cent commercial rate for use.

In a statement,Auckland Transport said it had surveyed users of the Albany park and ride and a “significant number” had come from within walking or cycling distance, and a fee would make them think twice.

 “This will open up more spaces for people who don’t have a choice, or come from further away.”

Auckland Transport said Waiheke Islanders had been paying for parking, and it had not stopped them from using the ferry.

Rodney Local Board member Tim Holdgate said the Warkworth car park seemed to have morphed into a “pay and ride”.

“Why should ratepayers who have paid $3.7 million for an asset have to then pay to use it?”

Holdgate said it would be a good “compromise” if money generated from the car park was used for local projects.

Local Board chair Phelan Pirrie said once the Warkworth car park was complete in June it would be a “bottom line” that use of the community facility not be charged for, if it were to delegate operation of the facility to AT.

Meanwhile, Holdgate and fellow board member Colin Smith have moved to ring-fence money collected from general rates to be used for sealing roads.

Aucklanders have until May 15 to provide feedback on the draft parking strategy.