Faster reforms to parking

A previous article examined Yarra’s existing parking policies, highlighted their inconsistencies, and offered solutions. Most of the proposed solutions require council to update their systems and technologies, such as releasing an app to purchase digital permits, a back end system for tracking digital permits, and enforcement using automatic number plate recognition. Such reforms can take time. This article considers what reforms could be implemented faster, using existing systems and technologies, based around “paper” permits.

Eliminate parking minimums

Council has already proposed an amendment to the planning scheme for Cremorne, replacing parking minimums with parking maximums. The next step is to propose a similar reform for the rest of the municipality. Most of Yarra lies within Melbourne’s Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN), which is the area within a short walk of a public transport stop. Council can propose an amendment that removes parking minimums for the remainder of Yarra that lies within the PPTN area. Removing minimums would be a “half way” reform, compared with imposing parking maximums.

Sell a limited number of C1 parking permits

Some people or businesses need to access properties throughout Yarra by car, including parking near their destination. If they occupy a time restricted parking bay they risk receiving a fine. Council can offer a service to these people or businesses by selling a limited number of C1 annual parking permits, which are valid for the whole of Yarra. Such permits are offered to each councillor, thus the C1 designation. To limit effects on residents, the quantity could be limited, e.g. to 1,000. To ensure that any impact on residents is balanced by revenue that can be returned to residents via capital works or council services, the price can be high, e.g. $6,000 per permit. If they sell out quickly, the renewal price can be raised. If they fail to sell, the price can be reduced. If the price settles at $6,000 this would raise $6m per year.

Selling 1,000 C1 parking permits could raise $6m. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Sell a limited number of Cremorne parking permits

Many people need to access Cremorne for work. Of these, some prefer to drive, and park near their office. Looking forward, Cremorne is undergoing a building boom, with many new office towers going up. Cremorne already experiences one of the highest demands for on-street parking in Yarra, and is a clearly defined, mostly commercial area, so is an ideal location to trial a new type of parking permit. The number of on-street parking bays in Cremorne is also known, at 1,082. Council can offer a limited number of Cremorne annual parking permits for a price that matches market rates, e.g. 200 permits for $3,000 per year. Similarly to the C1 permits, if they sell out quickly the renewal price can be raised, or if they fail to sell the price can be reduced. If the price settles at $3,000 this would raise $600k per year. Council could allocate this revenue for investment in capital works (footpaths, trees, pocket parks) in Cremorne or acquisition of new public open space in Cremorne.

Mockup of a possible Cremorne parking permit. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Update Cremorne parking zones

Cremorne’s mixture of types (including 15 free bays without time limits) among 1,082 parking bays could be simplified to:

  • 45% permit (up from ~ 20%) or more than doubling from ~ 210 to ~ 480
  • 40% 2-hour (unchanged) or ~ 430
  • 10% metered (unchanged) along Swan Street and Church Street
  • 5% loading, disabled, and car share (up from ~ 3%)

Combined with the offer of Cremorne parking permits, the outcome of this reform would be to convert ~ 200 drivers from free parking to paid parking, aligning with council’s adopted Parking Management Strategy.

A key principle endorsed by Council for managing parking in Yarra is that all visitors to our city should contribute to the cost of maintaining and providing the parking infrastructure they use.

Parking Management Strategy Section 3.5.2

Equity and social justice

We contend that selling limited numbers of parking permits and market rates will, overall, increase equity and social justice. It would decrease equity of access to on-street parking, but if revenue was reinvested in infrastructure for walking and cycling, it would increase equity of access to properties. This concept is discussed in more detail in our article on equity and social justice.

Published 30th May 2021