Online broker bites into parliamentary pay parking

Map showing pay parking area in the Parliamentary Triangle

Online car-parking broker Parkhound says it has been inundated with requests for parking spots in and around Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle since the National Capital Authority (NCA) announced a few months ago that motorists would have to start paying to park.

Pay parking began on Wednesday October 1 in the area roughly bordered by the Department of Defence, Parliament House and Civic, with rates set at $12 per day, $2.50 an hour or a five-day ticket for $57.50 and around 9000 spaces up for grabs.

Rob Crocitti, co-founder of Parkhound – a website and smartphone app where residents can lease their driveways, residents parking permits or apartment block spaces – said the most popular Canberran streets had been Brisbane Avenue, Telopea Park, Kings Avenue and Manuka Circle.

“We are overwhelmed with demand in Canberra. In the last two months Canberra has become one of the most requested areas in Australia,” Mr Crocitti said.

He said that although Sydney, Perth and Melbourne had some of the most expensive public car parks on Earth and Canberra was priced more reasonably, demand for car park spaces in the nation’s capital appeared buoyant.

“It’s one of those areas where if we get a car park it’s gone within a day. We have people on waiting lists in these areas. As soon as we get one, they take it,” he said.

Canberra residents are generally listing car park spaces on Parkhound for between $9 to $15 per day and $40 to $55 a week.

One advertisement lists a car park spot “one block away from ASIO and Russell offices (the Department of Defence)” for $9 per day or $40 a week: a potential saving for a motorist of $910 a year.

Another car park on Allara Street – within spitting distance of government offices located in Civic and in a gated apartment complex – has already been snapped up for $10 per day or $50 a week.

But even where a weekly Parkhound space might cost more per week than a government car park space Mr Crocitti said they were still quickly leased.

“Some people are willing to pay a little bit extra for the convenience of knowing that the park is there waiting for them and is dedicated for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the federal government has set its heart on raking in $73 million parking revenue over the next three years but this appears to be a somewhat hopeful estimate. If 90 per cent of the 9000 spaces were occupied and motorists paid a weekly rate every week of the year for the next three years the government’s coffers would swell by $72.6 million, $400,000 short of the target. Of course, hourly and daily parking would deliver slightly more revenue.

Revenue has already been hit by pay parking starting three months late in the Parliamentary Triangle and that is before taking into account lost revenue from commuters opting to cycle, take public transport or car pool to work. The influence of websites like Parkhound muscling in on the parking revenue stream is another unquantifiable factor.

An NCA spokesperson said it was “too early to speculate on budget targets for pay parking” but added that one of the stated main aims of the scheme, to free up visitor parking for to popular national institutions like the National Portrait Gallery and Questacon, had been achieved.

The NCA is keen for public servants and other workers to ditch their cars for public transport or cycling.

“The community have had 18 months to prepare for the new parking arrangements, and it appears many people have chosen to change their travel to work mode and ride their bikes or catch public transport,” the NCA said.

“If each of those people previously drove vehicles to work, this has freed up 18 per cent of available car spaces on National Land,” said the NCA spokesperson.

ACTION Buses, which has beefed up the number of buses servicing the Parliamentary Triangle to provide an alternative to pay parking, has seen an increase of 500 people catching a bus to and from work in the Parliamentary Zone in the early days of the pay parking regime.

NCA Chief Executive Malcolm Snow has said introducing paid parking in Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton was necessary to fund upgrading and maintaining existing car parks, left unfunded by the 2013 Budget. The money will be channelled into the government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The hours of pay parking operation in the Parliamentary Triangle are 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) and tickets are transferable across the four suburbs.

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