The Perils of Pay-for-Parking Policies

by The Editor

Vintage Parking

Oh dear. You could almost envisage the apparent rivers of tears flowing through the limestone aquifers of Parliamentary Triangle following the announcement paid parking would be instituted within the area.

So what’s the story?

Canberra 1959

Firstly, let’s acknowledge there is a certain element of local media who will search out a lone representative to speak in lieu of vox populi. That solitary punter will have a comment in a leading par along accompanied by a large photo of the complainant (F 25-35 or M 50+ most likely). It’s the standard approach for a well-used angle in search of a story.

Daytime Perversions
Back to the capital. We Canberrans have a peculiar fetish when it comes to parking. Unlike our big sister-cities where residents often simply see parking as something you might do near your house, it appears our locals have some sense of entitlement when it comes to storing a vehicle during work hours. We’ve spent some time working in the city, and have observed two unique behaviours in this regard.

The first is a strange obsession that really demonstrates how many Canberrans feel about parking. On more than one occasion we have had discussions with city workers who would prefer to stow their car ten minutes further away from the office for the sake of saving $2 per day ($10 instead of $12) on their parking. One really has to wonder who values either their work time or leisure time at a measly $6 per hour (cue cheers from Hancock Prospecting).

The second is the number of people who park (for free) in the Parliamentary Triangle (usually the National Library) and then walk in to the city. This option puts pressure in Parkes’ services and impacts on the availability of free parking for tourists (you know, the ones w’ere spending tens of millions to attract). This really needs to stop. Keeping inert cars in a region at no cost where people could be coming and going with dollars in their hands is counter-intuitive to promoting a local economy.

The Federal Budget
Perhaps this scenario will soon end. A proposal to implement paid parking around Parliament House may raise around $72 million dollars according to our Chief Minister. In this model, parking will cost $2 per hour and probably $11 per day. Pretty reasonable for an area of high density offices with a daytime population similar to the city – given the numbers we listed above. Or, perhaps we could meet half-way and cap the daily cost at $5.00 to offer a rather unique solution:

The Parliament House Coin

Visit Canberra
On a serious note, we would support free parking to still exist within the Triangle for tourism purposes. $2 hour parking is probably enough, certainly if such spaces are adequate. A tourist could park a car under Parliament House for a tour and watch feeding time before moving the car closer to the lake for any of the cultural institutions along King George Terrace. Perhaps these could be marked with the fractured though fabulous Canberra 100 logo (or evolutionary version for the purposes of local tourism), and locals encouraged to shame workers who utilise these spaces in a similar vein to the way we treat disabled parking? Maybe.

Canberra 1959

There are certainly impacts that will need to be examined, such as the impact on surrounding suburban streets. However, if one combines a hugely expensive set of buildings of important national value with higher-than-average wages, and a reasonably flexible (while still wholly-government owned) urban transport network and the suggestion commuters pay for the privilege of tying up some of Australia’s most valuable real estate for the sake of their own convenience, it becomes a pretty reasonable argument to prosecute.

Perhaps you disagree. Let rip in the comments below.