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'Poor effort': Mayor blasts AT over CBD parking charges controversy

Author
Bernard Orsman,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 May 2024, 7:20am
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is not happy with Auckland Transport. Photo / Michael Craig
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is not happy with Auckland Transport. Photo / Michael Craig

'Poor effort': Mayor blasts AT over CBD parking charges controversy

Author
Bernard Orsman,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 May 2024, 7:20am

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has reprimanded Auckland Transport over its CBD parking charges, saying the process “is a poor effort and I’m not happy about it”.  

Transport Minister Simeon Brown yesterday waded into the debate on new 24-hour parking charges in the Auckland CBD, saying he agrees with the mayor that Auckland Transport (AT) needs greater accountability.  

AT has announced that from July 1, CBD residents and visitors will face new charges overnight, at weekends and on public holidays to collect more money. 

The new overnight charge will be $2-$3 an hour, depending on the inner-city zone. 

Resident Anil Ramnath is concerned about the proposed parking charges in the central city. Photo / Sylvie WhinrayResident Anil Ramnath is concerned about the proposed parking charges in the central city. Photo / Sylvie Whinray 

In a letter to residents, AT said it had been told to take a “more commercial approach” to managing public assets to reduce the burden on ratepayers. 

In an interview with the Herald last night, the mayor said he supported higher parking charges to raise revenue but said there was no plan or explanation from AT about the changes. 

Brown took issue with a statement from AT that he was told about the charges on May 1. 

AT chief executive Dean Kimpton yesterday disputed a weekend report that Brown was blindsided, saying he rang and talked to the mayor about it on April 29, and the plans had been “out there” since April 23 as part of AT’s parking strategy. 

Said Wayne Brown: “What bloody Dean said is actually a very careful version of the truth - a phone call that said we are going to put up parking prices is a long way short of suddenly sending out notices to everybody in the mail and not telling me. 

“It was a poor effort and I’m not happy about it, and I’m still not happy about it,” the mayor said. 

“The [AT] chairman [Richard Leggat] rang me up to say I was being tough and I told him, ‘mate, you weren’t put in there to be an apologist for the chief executive’. 

“‘You are put in there to make sure bloody Auckland is listened to, and if you do have something to say you make it sensibly, have a communications plan and everyone understands it, including me’,” said the mayor. 

 

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

Simeon Brown yesterday backed the mayor’s stance on the parking charges controversy. 

“I tend to agree with him, 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.” 

Last night, AT reiterated its earlier confirmation that the mayor was given a heads-up before other stakeholders were informed. 

In a statement, Kimpton said: “We’re grateful for the mayor’s support in increasing parking revenue, as this is the direction we’ve been given by council.” 

Wayne Brown said street space is valuable and when people pay $100,000 for a car park, that’s a good place to work from for setting higher parking charges. 

“There is a case to be made for overnight charges, but how do you do it? Do people have to duck out at two in the morning and go and feed a meter?” he said. 

The mayor said residents should be allowed to pay for a weekly or monthly permit, and visitors to the city can pay a nighttime charge. 

Instead of a CBD parking plan, Brown wants to see a comprehensive parking plan across the city. 

AT said it is not considering parking permits. 

“Residents in the city centre have access to many frequent and reliable transport options, including public transport and rideshare. Those who choose to own a private vehicle have been able to use public road space as free storage overnight. This is something AT can no longer afford to provide when there are other areas of the transport network that need investment,” an AT spokesman said last night. 

 

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck. Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck. 

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said the central city has faced a decade of challenges such as the construction of the City Rail Link, Covid-19, and the cost of living, making it really tough for a lot of businesses that did not need to be hit with new parking charges “out of the blue”. 

“It’s another thing making life harder at a time when we need really good decisions to support our growth and ongoing recovery. 

“We are only at 70 per cent levels of pre-Covid foot traffic. If you look at the number of people coming in each morning, it’s a radical drop. They have very successfully got the cars 45 per cent down (into the CBD) since 2015 but that hasn’t been replaced with public transport or active modes,” said Beck. 

“We have a shortfall of 33,000 people coming in in the morning peak.” 

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