Complaining about parking fees is a national obsession, but which cities have the highest rates? The simple answer: it depends how long you want to park for, but it's much worse on the east coast.
Picture by Jason Ilagan
A study commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) collated typical CBD parking rates from the web sites of major operators across Australia's capital cities. Unsurprisingly, the RACQ's focus was on how expensive Brisbane is compared to other locations, but there's rather more to the story than that. Here are the figures across the eight cities for parking for 1, 2 4 or 8 hours on a weekday.
Unsurprisingly, the rates in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are much higher than in other locations, since more people are seeking parking in a relatively constrained city location. There's a massive drop in charges for Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart (50 cents for an hour!) and Darwin.
Across Australia, parking rates tend to flatten out after four hours; it's much cheaper to park all day than to simply drop in for an hour or so. The RACQ sees this as a terrible thing, but that's what you'd expect a motoring organisation to say. It's also much cheaper to park on weekends and in the evening, when travel demand to city centres drops noticeably.
The brutal reality is that CBD parking is always going to be relatively expensive, and that's not entirely a bad thing. Street parking options are of necessity limited, and space to build new car parks is restricted. If it was easy and cheap for everyone to park in the city, traffic congestion would be far worse. Many transport strategies (such as that used in Brisbane) are designed to encourage the use of public transport, which remains a more viable means of moving large people into cities despite the evident flaws in many Australian systems.
One factor that's not immediately evident in these numbers is that the number of competitive car park operators in cities varies hugely. In Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane two operators — Wilson and Secure Parking — dominate. Adelaide has considerably more operators, while council car parks are common in the smaller cities.
What strategies do you use to cut parking charges in the CBD? Tell us in the comments.
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