A proposal to charge commuters to park at Wellington’s bus and train stations could drive people away from public transport, some mayors say. But a pro- public transport lobby group is in favour.
The proposal is part of the draft Regional Transport Plan 2021, aimed at increasing public transport usage by 40 percent within 10 years.
But Kāpiti Coast mayor K Gurunathan says while he understands the intention, adding an extra cost to park at train stations will backfire and deter commuters from using public transport anywhere on their journey.
He believes when the Transmission Gully State Highway 1 bypass opens in September more people will already be tempted to drive to Wellington. Without first providing better suburban buses to the railway stations, driving to Wellington will become the most attractive option.
“Unless they’ve got the buses access plans from the suburbs to the railway station all sorted … people will see the extra charge, and that it’ll be more cost effective for them to go straight to Wellington.
“At the end of the day they want to encourage public transport, but if they make it more expensive that will be counterproductive.”
But Living Streets Aotearoa spokesperson Mike Mellor says free carparks at train stations subsidise car-use, and the plan is the right idea.
“Park and ride is actually a very expensive way of increasing public transport usage by not that much. Even a full car park is barely a trainload of passengers, for instance.
“It costs a lot of money, it encourages local car use, and it means that that land is not available for productive purposes like transit-oriented development where you build productive buildings round transport hubs. And it also often makes a really unpleasant environment to access the station by any other means.”