Last week, PCI posted a report on the installation of paid parking meters in the NSW
town of Wollongong (see post Wollongong introduces paid parking in city centre here).
Indeed, the local newspaper, the Illawarra Mercury, has seized on the emotion-charged topic with Spanish-inquisition-esque zeal; publishing at least a story a day to their website since the installation of the meters.
The Mercury has been hitting the streets and gauging the opinion of business and the public on the meters, identifying the biggest issues as the flat fee for the half-hour, the one hour, and the two hour zones. One street in particular, Burelli Street, is lined with half-hour zones and empty parking spaces on one side of the street; on the other side, a Woolworths parking lot which offers free parking for up to two hours with a docket, is packed with parkers looking for spaces. Businesses in Burelli Street have claimed that their businesses are down by at least half since the introduction of the meters.
The Mercury proposed four solutions to the ongoing debate:
- Scrap the half-hour zones and make them one hour zones
- Scrap the flat $2 fee in favour of a pro-rata fee of $1 per hour
- Introduce free parking in any space for 15 minutes
- Create all-day parking stations on the fringe of the city, linked with a free shuttle bus, to address a lack of long-term parking for workers.
On April 2, the Wollongong City Council, following a council meeting with over 40 attendees, including representatives from businesses on Burelli Street, agreed to changes to the paid parking in these zones. Machines were reprogrammed to one-hour zones, taking into consideration genuine concerns and business feedback, claiming that the half hour zones were ‘killing’ their businesses and were not long enough.
A city-wide review of the parking system is still to be undertaken when more stable data on parking usage is available after one month.
PCI agrees with many of the recommendations of the Illawarra Mercury, with the exception of the 15 minute free zone, which we feel defeats the purpose of introducing the paid parking altogether, and would simply see an immediate increase in congestion and traffic as a result.