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AT boss apologises to Mayor Brown over controversial CBD parking changes, delays roll out

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 4:32pm

AT boss apologises to Mayor Brown over controversial CBD parking changes, delays roll out

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 4:32pm

Auckland Transport has backtracked over the rollout of controversial changes to CBD parking - delaying the price hike and apologising to Mayor Wayne Brown over inadequate communication to stakeholders.

It follows Brown’s criticism of Auckland Transport (AT) for blindsiding him and residents when it announced it would begin charging for weekends, public holidays, and overnight parking in the CBD.

AT chief executive Dean Kimpton said the delay, announced this afternoon, would “allow for keeping the mayor and councillors sufficiently informed and further discussion with key stakeholders and those most affected”.

The changes for overnight parking will be pushed back to October 1. Changes for Sunday and public holiday charges will begin as planned on July 1. Changes in Wynyard Quarter will be delayed until a faulty pedestrian bridge is repaired.

“I have also told the mayor we are sorry and could have done better at keeping him and other important stakeholders sufficiently informed,” Kimpton said.

“We acknowledge the pressure on residents and business, whilst balancing the need to make city centre parking available and in a way that is consistent with the ‘Room to Move’ parking strategy adopted by Auckland Transport in May 2023.

“We are going to consider possible mitigations for overnight parking changes.”

The organisation representing hospitality businesses, Hospitality New Zealand, spoke out about the impact the new charges would have on their workers.

Hospitality New Zealand said it welcomed AT’s announcement it would delay the introduction of overnight charges, saying this would allow AT to consult with the industry before moving ahead.

The group’s chief executive, Steve Armitage, said: “Hospitality workers from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and accommodation providers rely on cheap and safe inner-city parking options while at work.

“In many cases, driving is the safest and most reliable transportation mode for workers to get home after finishing late. We know public transport options are harder to navigate in the early hours of the morning, and taxis or Uber are often not affordable enough for those relying on them to get home many times a week,” Armitage said.

Auckland Transport has revealed plans to charge for parking in the CBD 24 hours a day and on weekends and public holidays. Source: Auckland Transport
Auckland Transport has revealed plans to charge for parking in the CBD 24 hours a day and on weekends and public holidays. Source: Auckland Transport

When the new fees were initially announced, meanwhile, Brown told the Herald he was “sick of it. [Auckland Transport] have got to start listening... I did tell them the other day, ‘Don’t do that, I want a full parking strategy’.”

Brown said there was no question that AT was supposed to increase parking income, or that parking in the central city should cost.

“I mean it’s $100,000 to buy a car park in Ponsonby where I live. And so people shouldn’t be able to park for nothing all night long, but I wanted to see a strategy about it.

Residents, too, outlined how the new parking fees would have impacted them. Anil Ramnath, who moved into his St Paul St Apartments flatshare two years ago, raised the possibility he would have to move house or sell his car to avoid the extra costs.

Minister of Transport Simeon Brown, meanwhile, agreed with the mayor that AT needed more accountability.

Auckland Transport chief executive Dean Kimpton. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Auckland Transport chief executive Dean Kimpton. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The minister said: “There does need to be greater accountability over Auckland Transport, and we are working through some potential options of what that might look like.

“When you are trying to get more people to come into the city at night-time, it [the charges] clearly rubs against that.”

The new “Central City Paid Parking Zone” covered on-street parking in the downtown area bordered by State Highways 1 and 16, including Wynyard Quarter in the west, south to the Upper Queen St overpass and east to the border with Parnell.

It followed AT’s move late last year to charge more for peak parking, and the government’s removal of half-priced public transport fares.

AT recently paused plans to remove the last remaining car parks for shoppers on Karangahape Rd after a telling-off by the mayor in November.

It had also sought special powers to remove kerbside parking for things like cycleways and to charge at park-and-ride stations without consulting widely with ratepayers.

However, it was forced to abandon plans to secure the special powers last year after a directive from Brown called for a “complete change in approach”.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.

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