Below is an photo of Cottesloe Station (on the Fremantle Line) car park in the middle of a weekday. It's a bit empty isn't it. Where are the cars you ask?
Here they are, in a grassy patch of land next to the empty station car park.
The implementation of paid parking in 2014 has resulted in many commuters (in fact, all but one at Cottesloe) to avoid paying for parking, and parking anywhere else they can get away with (e.g. on grassy land, nearby residential streets). This somewhat defeats the purpose of having a station car park in the first place, and appears to be a money making cash grab by the recently ousted LNP state government. Whilst there were claims by the previous WA government of no drops in patronage, no station by station data was released (note: not all stations in Perth have a car park). Whilst Perth's smart card (SmartRider) can be used to pay for parking, only one car number plate can be active to the card at any time, thus if you keep changing cars, you risk a $50 fine unless you jump through hoops to change the active car. Whilst the infrastructure cost of a car parking space is surprisingly high, there are also significant financial and social benefits of attracting users onto efficient public transport.
So what are the disadvantages of making commuters pay for station parking?
- Drivers will avoid using the station car park where reasonably possible, resulting in...
- Congestion in nearby residential streets, or any other location suitable for parking.
- Lots of empty car parking spaces is a waste of expensive infrastructure and land resources.
- It makes using public transport less attractive, and less value for money compared to driving to the destination. Potential increases in road congestion.
- Does not necessarily prevent non-train users using station car parks.
- Technicalities around payment (as per above Perth example, note: not all station car parks can have boom gates fitted).
- Requires extra staff to police compliance.
So what are the advantages of making commuters pay for station parking?
- May encourage some commuters to cycle to the station if there are free, safe, and sufficient cycle storage families (note: hot climates limit the uptake of cycling).
- May encourage the use of feeder bus services - but only if the feeder bus exists, and is sufficiently frequent, which most aren't.
- Provides cost recovery for expensive infrastructure and land resources.