How can we raise $10 million per year for our streets?

Streets Alive Yarra is calling on the City of Yarra to allocate $10 million per year for capital expenditure on our streets. However, council is reported to be $50 million in deficit as an outcome from COVID, so where can this money come from? The answer is to reform how on-street parking is priced.

Sell daily permits to commuters

Roughly 3/4 of Yarra’s parking bays (34,000 out of 47,000) are offered for free, including to commuters.

3/4 of Yarra’s on-street parking bays are free. Data source: City of Yarra. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Council could ask commuters to pay a small fee to park each day in Yarra, e.g. $5 in low demand areas, increasing to $20 per day in high demand areas. Council can do this by changing free parking bays to permit zones and then selling digital permits via a smartphone app. For example, if 20,000 bays raised money for 250 days each year, then:

  • At an average of $5/day, council would raise $25 million per year
  • At an average of $10/day, council would raise $50 million per year

Sell annual permits to commuters

Instead of selling daily digital permits, could sell the existing ‘sticker’ type of permits to commuters, which are fixed to the windscreen of a vehicle. Instead of a commuter purchasing a $10 digital permit each day (up to $3,650 per year), they could purchase a parking permit sticker for $3,000. If Yarra sold 10,000 permits for $3,000 each, we could raise $30 million per year. Note that the City of Moreland already do something very similar, via their ‘Moreland User Pays permit‘, costing $100 for the first month and $300 for subsequent months, or $3,400 per year.

Moreland User Pays permit costs $3,400 per year. Image credit: City of Moreland.

Similarly, council could sell ‘C1’ parking permit stickers (also called ‘councillor’ permits) that allow the holder to park in any permit zone, anywhere in Yarra, for a year. If Yarra sold 1,000 permits for $6,000 each, we could raise $6 million per year.

Increase the fee for residential & business parking permits

Yarra sells approximately 30,000 parking residential & business parking permits each year. The price for a first permit is $50 per year (14 cents per day). If the price was increased to $365 per year ($1 per day) then Yarra would raise an extra $9 million per year. This price would be comparable to the City of Vancouver, which charges $401 Canadian dollars per year (AU$422), for residential on-street parking permits in the high demand West End area. Note that such a change would not impact the households who receive a free parking permit, based on approved concessions. Clearly, this option would not be necessary if council was raising $50 million per year from commuters.

Price for residential on-street parking permit in the West End of Vancouver. Image credit: City of Vancouver.

These ideas aren’t new

Increasing the price of parking to provide revenue for safe travel infrastructure isn’t a new idea. Here’s a local resident suggesting it in 2016:

Image credit: City of Yarra minutes 16th February 2016

Conclusion

Reforms to the pricing of on-street parking can easily raise $50 million each year, enabling $10 million to be spent on infrastructure for walking and biking, with the remainder going to other services, capital expenditure, or cuts to rates.

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