Auckland Transport park and ride charge plans 'grossly unfair'

Source: Local Democracy Reporting

An Auckland councillor is calling for plans to introduce charging at public park and ride facilities to be dropped.

A Park and Ride sign.

By Stephen Forbes, Local Democracy Reporter

Thousands of Aucklanders park at the facilities every day before taking public transport to work or study.

They have, until now, been free as they encourage people to use public transport, but Auckland Transport is now looking to introduce charging under its controversial draft parking strategy.

Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor Daniel Newman said that was a step too far.

"I want to highlight this and I want people to put pressure on [Auckland Transport] to drop this proposal. Charging people to do the right thing is grossly unfair," he said.

The strategy has already made headlines for its planned removal of parking spaces across the region to make way for cycleways and bus lanes in a bid to reduce congestion.

Newman said park and rides in areas like South Auckland should be encouraged to get more people onto the rail network and buses.

According to Auckland Transport, there are 30 park and ride facilities across the city with more than 6000 parking spaces.

Newman voted against the draft parking strategy in March before it went out for public consultation in April.

Auckland councillor Daniel Newman says Auckland Transport's plans to introduce charges at park and ride facilities will unfairly affect people in areas like south Auckland who use them everyday to get to work.

Auckland Transport did not answer questions on its proposal to introduce charging at its park and ride facilities.

But in a statement, it said it planned to release a revised version of its draft parking strategy after the local body elections in October, which will go to Auckland Council's planning committee for approval.

A spokesperson said the decision to delay its release was based on advice from council officers.

They said the initial public consultation ended in May, but more work was needed to understand the perspectives of urban Māori, as well as communities in West and South Auckland.

"Until this additional engagement is complete we will not be making any revisions to the draft proposals or progressing these through internal approval processes."

The spokesperson said Auckland Transport was planning to release a summary of submissions once it had completed the consultation and would also provide a public update on any proposed changes to the draft parking strategy when it went to the planning committee for consideration.

Auckland Council planning committee chairperson Chris Darby said the reason for the delays in completing the consultation process was due to concerns over a lack of engagement with Māori.

"The Independent Māori Statutory Board felt that the early consultation wasn't sufficient," he said.

"We've got to get this work right and the feedback process has not yet been completed. We need to give all members of the public the opportunity to give their feedback."

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air