Auckland Transport is to begin charging $2-4 for all its park’n’rides, and has identified the first 240km of Auckland roads on which it proposes to eliminate kerbside parking. Other towns are expected to follow its lead.
Next week, Bluebells Cakery will celebrate 10 years in business. Karla Goodwin and Ryan Sharma started selling at a French market in Auckland’s Parnell, before opening their own little store looking out onto nine angle parks on the side of busy Hillsborough Rd.
On a weekend morning in kids’ sports season, those parks are all full, as Aucklanders dash in for their red velvet cupcakes, passionfruit macarons and takeaway coffees.
Today, though, Auckland Transport will publish its new draft parking strategy – and Bluebells’ stores on Hillsborough Rd and New North Rd are both in the road. The agency has identified more than 1200km of roads, from Point Wells Rd in the north down to Waiuku Rd in the south, that will be designated part of the city’s “strategic transport network”. About a fifth of those roads (240km of tarseal) will be a priority in the next 10 years.
Sharma had a detailed conversation last week with Auckland Transport official about parking for the couple’s Kingsland store on New North Rd, he says.
But like most Aucklanders, he didn’t realise that 11km stretch would be the first of 1200km of roads on which the city’s roading bosses plan to progressively remove kerbside parking and replace it with more bike and bus lanes, micro-mobility and e-mobility space, pedestrian corridors and trees.
“I was happy with how responsive they are and how my concerns were listened to,” Sharma says.
Auckland Transport’s priority roads for improvement, and removal of carparks, include Matakana Rd, Hobsonville Road, Onewa Road and Lake Rd in the north. On the isthmus, priorities include Great North Road, Sandringham Rd, Mt Eden Rd and Manukau Rd.
Then out east, Pakuranga Rd and Ti Rakau Drive are on the list. And heading south are Coronation Rd, Te Irirangi Drive and Mill Rd, among others.
The initial plan was that carparks would be removed from designated (and previously unspecified) strategic roads without consultation – until Mayor Phil Goff slated the plan as “bloody arrogant”.
“We do want to set the expectation with the public that our starting point is that the parking will be removed. And we’re not going to be having the debate when we consult on individual roads.”
– Andrew McGill, Auckland Transport
“Democracy is about governing with the consent of the people and I’m a little worried we will piss people off enough that they will simply revolt against this,” the mayor told officials at a meeting in November.
Now, Auckland Transport has backtracked somewhat and agreed to discuss the removal of carparks when they consult on individual road improvement plans – though officials remain adamant that the overall strategy of removing carparks is not up for discussion.
Andrew McGill, the head of integrated network and planning, told Newsroom: “Our proposal was, because we need to do this urgent transformation of the region, we were going to not consult people on the removal of parking lanes and transforming those into bus lanes, T2 lanes, freight lanes, cycleways or widened footpaths.
“We have heard feedback from people on this topic, and we have gone back and checked it against council’s intents on letting the public have their say,” he acknowledged.
“But we do want to set the expectation with the public that our starting point is that the parking will be removed. And we’re not going to be having the debate when we consult on individual roads, on the concept of repurposing parking lanes; instead we’re going to be looking at the consequences of doing that and if there is particular hardship or unforeseen circumstances that arise.
“Because we can’t afford to have a situation where an entire kilometres-long lane is not being utilised by the people of Auckland, because a couple of people just want to be able to park out the front of their house.”
Jenny Chetwynd, the executive general manager of planning and investment, denied officials had received a slap over the wrist from the lawyers for failing to consult. “We just thought it was the right thing to do in terms of what we’re hearing,” she said.
Park’n’ride and pay
The other big change in the new parking strategy is the announcement that Auckland Transport will begin charging for the use of all its park and ride facilities – a “modest cost” of $2 to $4 a day.
The charges are intended to force commuters to rethink whether there is some other way to get to the transport hub, where they catch their bus, train or ferry, McGill said. “These represent a significant investment in land, and we think it’s really important it’s reserved primarily for people who don’t have other options available to them.”
The agency argues many of the park and ride facilities in places like Manurewa and Albany are being used by shoppers and local workers, not by public transport commuters.
AT also plans to diversify the services it provides at these facilities: not just car parks, but more spaces for bikes, e-scooters, mobility spaces, car-shares, high occupancy vehicles, as well as the self-explanatory “kiss and ride drop-off”.
The agency already charges for the use of Devonport park and ride, and Waiheke Island’s Matiatia carpark has charged up to $6 a day for years. “It has not led to people abandoning the park and ride, they still continue to use it and they recognise that it is a premium product.
“We’ve expanded Albany carpark five times now. You just about need a bus to get from one end of the Albany parking lot to the other. This is extremely valuable land.”
– Chris Darby, Auckland councillor
“Parking is not free to provide, and therefore – just like public transport or healthcare or any other number of things – it can’t be free to use.”
Councillor Chris Darby, Auckland Council’s planning committee chair, has been working with Auckland Transport on this strategy. “Most of our big park and rides are full,” he told Newsroom. “You will not get in there after 8am in many of them, you won’t even get in there after about 7am in some.”
And they were expensive, costing $25,000 to $40,000 per park, to build. “We’ve expanded Albany carpark five times now. You just about need a bus to get from one end of the Albany parking lot to the other. This is extremely valuable land.”
The plans to remove on-street parking have already divided councillors, especially at a time when developers are no longer to provide off-street carparks in a Government attempt to lessen people’s reliance on private cars.
For instance, Ockham Residential has built one big new apartment complex on New North Rd that has off-street parks, the 119-unit Tuatahi development. But further up the road, the same developer has since completed another 32-unit apartment block, Modal, with no off-street carparks.
Auckland Transport’s fear is that if it doesn’t regulate kerbside parking, busy routes will be lined with parked cars outside such apartment blocks.
Waitākere Ward councillor Linda Cooper raised the example, in a council workshop, of plans to impose parking management on the northern parts of Te Atatū even though it has few decent public transport links. The concern is especially for those on low incomes, who need their cars to get to shift work and workplaces that aren’t on easy public transport routes.
But Auckland Transport says that at the same time it removes the parking lane, from such neighbourhoods, it will swap in a frequent transit route. “It’s about doing the carrot and stick at the same time,” said McGill.
“We’ve got half a million cars travelling our roads in the two hours of the AM peak, many of them absolutely stuck in gridlock. We can actually provide relief if we progress this parking strategy.”
– Chris Darby
Darby acknowledged his Devonport family owned two vehicles – “one a dirty diesel” – that they sometimes parked in the garage and sometimes on the street. But he generally cycled to the nearby ferry terminal, to catch a ferry to work.
So is it fair for affluent councillors and senior officials to deny car-parking to someone in Te Atatū who has few other choices?
“For decades, people have viewed the road as their rightful place to park their private car,” Darby said.
“We need to re-educate people and remind them that it is a public road space. But we’re doing this in tandem with providing better public transport, high occupancy vehicle lanes, better walking and cycling, increasing the tree canopy, creating great places for people to linger and gather in town centres.
“If you point it back to me, yes, I have off-street parking, but I also use the on-street parking. I won’t be captured by this strategy, I’m not living on a strategic network
“On that strategic network, it’s in high demand. And we’ve got half a million cars travelling our roads in the two hours of the AM peak, many of them absolutely stuck in gridlock. We can actually provide relief if we progress this parking strategy.”
* The draft parking strategy is to be published today. Auckland Transport will consult until May 1 at AT.govt.nz/parkingstrategy.
Ryan Sharma requests that the following comments be appended with regard to his conversations with AT: “I was happy with how responsive they are and how my concerns were listened to and am happy with the intent behind the proposal and potential outcomes.”