13 May 2024

Auckland deputy mayor Desley Simpson urges AT to consult over parking charges

10:02 pm on 13 May 2024

Auckland Transport (AT) should go back and consult with affected parties over its new overnight on-street parking changes, says deputy mayor Desley Simpson.

From 1 July, AT plans to make drivers pay for on-street parking 24 hours a day in central Auckland, and introduce paid parking in some areas of the city where it was currently free.

Simpson said AT's strategy had been "poorly executed" and she felt for inner city residents and businesses.

No one had directed AT to bring in 24/7 parking charges without consultation, she said.

"The trouble with the plan is it has come as a shock to everybody, and I think there needed to be a wider stakeholder consultation around what Auckland Transport was planning and how to work with key stakeholders who potentially use overnight parking and to find a more reasonable solution."

Simpson told Checkpoint she agreed with mayor Wayne Brown that AT needed to look at revising parking charges to increase revenue, "but somehow that's been translated into immediately hit the centre city parking zone, immediately take everything overnight and take all the loading zones that were traditionally free after 6pm... so I just think it's been poorly executed, and we haven't looked at it more regionally and I'm a bit surprised, really.

"I feel for a lot of residents in the CBD and a lot of business owners who are basically saying, 'Heck, what's all this about, and why didn't I know, and why couldn't I have a say, and how do I deal with my own solution in a more reasonable way?'"

Questions had been raised about how the new parking charges had been communicated to council representatives. Simpson said she had been told that the Waitematā Local Board received a memo from AT about them on 11 April but it was unclear what was their response.

"I just think the communications around this ... to the mayor, to all councillors ... could have been better."

However, AT chief executive Dean Kimpton told Morning Report he personally delivered the news to Brown in April.

In addition, it had been "an open discussion all the way through the Long-Term Plan process".

"Auckland Transport needs to find $73 million worth of savings in the year coming - that includes cost reductions, but it also includes looking at revenue sources, and this is one of those," Kimpton said.

"If we don't find those savings, the ratepayers - including the business ratepayers inside the central city area - could face up to 3 percent increase on rates."

Parking machine.

File image. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Could there be exemptions for overnight workers in the CBD, such as cleaners?

"I think there definitely should be something for that particular sector ... absolutely," Simpson said.

"This has been brought in when we do not have 24/7 public transport available to all users.

"In many cases, there is no other transport option for these people ... and I think there is a reasonable case for some exemptions there."

Residential parking permits for inner-city dwellers could "absolutely" be an option.

The issue was who ultimately controlled Auckland Transport, she said.

"And like the Minister for Auckland [Simeon Brown] and the mayor, I think there needs to be political direction around public transport.

"The political direction to Auckland Transport was try and be more commercial when it comes to parking, but it was about ... the region as a whole.

"From my perspective, no one ever gave Auckland Transport the direction to hit the city, start charging for parking 24/7 and do it now."

Asked if AT needed to consult further on the changes, she said, "Yes i do believe that would be fair."

Earlier on Monday, Kimpton said the parking price hikes were not happening in isolation, saying AT was working on a permit system for people who work odd hours in the city, capping the cost of public transport for regular users and "encouraging employers through our fair share scheme to subsidise the cost of their employees coming into the city, or anywhere across Auckland, on public transport".

"Money that we do raise through this - and we expect to raise about just under a million dollars - qe will reinvest in the great public transport into the city and safety, so that people feel safe and it's available.

"So this is not just an increase without context. There's a lot of context, and Auckland Council does support it."

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