Which Australian Cities Have The Most Expensive CBD Parking?

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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    finally a benefit of living in a small city, hobart, cheap as parking, infact the central most (and i believe all) carpark here is free for the first 90mins makes short (read female free) shopping trips so much better

    Hobart City Council multi-storey car parks also offer the first 1.5 hours for free and some council and privately operated car parks in the CBD offer early bird rates (before 9am) for all day parking at $10.
    People still complain about the "high" cost of parking.

      Do people have cars in hobart?

        Of course they do silly, that's Western Australia who is still using horse drawn cart & buggies!

    whats not mentoned in this is that the brisbane city council is a major public transport player in brisbane too running a large percentige of the busses and all the busses from the brisbane suburbs to the city so they have an agenda to get people on public transport as they make money when they do

      hand in hand with that is that Brisbane literally has the most expensive public transport prices in the world. We overtook London some months ago.

      All public transport runs at a loss

      BCC spends far more on roads than on on public transport, and indeed has a history (thanks to CantReadCampbell) of diverting funds allocated to public transport and cycling into roads through various back-handed means. The high cost of parking is a consequence of *low* public transport use (more competition for car parks); it's certainly not BCC (a fanatically pro-redneck organisation) encouraging public transport.

    Adelaide has a pretty good range of parks, and if you're willing to walk street parking at reasonable (sometimes free) expense isn't far away either. In fact I find it's cheaper to drive/park into the Adelaide CBD then it is to use public transport.

      If we had better and cheaper public transport, it would definitely improve the traffic and street parking conditions in the city. As it is, if you car pool with at least one other person, it's cheaper to drive and park in a CBD carpark than it is for the two of you to catch the bus or train or tram in.

      I tend to ride my bike which is free :) However, there's still plenty of motorists who don't treat the marked bike lanes in the city with any thought, which can make it an... interesting... ride, sometimes.

      The $2 park-and-ride at the Ent Cent is great value (tram from Ent Cent to city is free), but mostly for those who live within a reasonable distance from Hindmarsh.

    No mention of early bird rates, either. For those who drive in for a 9-5 job, the early bird prices are the most important.

      I agree. In adelaide, I pay $10/day for up to 12 hours... the "general" rates massively skew the figures. Having spent 3 years in perth, I disagree that parking rates in adelaide are on par with Perth... 3 years ago, I was paying those rates in Perth.

      Also agree RE: Molokov & comments on public transport being more expensive than driving and parking in adelaide. I pay approx $7/day for bus in and out of CBD... add a second person, and it is way cheaper to drive.

        The Raj: Which parking one is that? My mum usually parks in the one above HJs on Rundle and early bird just went up to $13

    Funny enough, right at this moment I am sitting in a hospital car park which is secured by boom gates and the exit boom lift has been stuck open for about half an hour now, it's funny seeing people just drive out without paying.

    I actually looked at this issue as part of my Final Year Project of my Civil Eng degree.
    In melbourne (not sure about other cities) the council charge rent on the parking spots and are responsible for the price hike. the idea is that for short trips people should be taking public transport.
    Hobart is so cheap as they don't have the extensive public transport that Melbourne has (and also simple supply/demand ratios).

    Hobart is truly strange. In every other city, 1 hour costs X amount, 2 hours costs less than double the 1-hour amount, 4 hours costs less than double the 2-hour amount, and 8 hours costs less than double the 4-hour amount. Sort of a "buy in bulk" saving. In Hobart things are the other way around, where the rate "per hour" increases the longer you stay parked

    What about the $10 per 24hr parking at Crown Centre in Melb, not inner CBD but still in the city.

      This. If the weather is pleasant and you don't mind a short(ish) walk, parking at Crown is the way to go.

      Great option if you work at Southbank

    Theres $10 in sydney as a flat rate on weekends which isn't bad, but i prefer to ride my motorcycle then it's free parking everywhere and for the price of 2 hours parking i can get a week and half worth of petrol to fill my tank.

    While I agree that Brisbane's public transport is better than driving - that's a condemnation of how terrible it is to try and drive into the CBD in Brisbane, and not in any way an endorsement of Brisbane's public transport. Living just outside the CBD - given the time lost by inconvenient public transport - If I consider what I charge for my time, it's usually substantially cheaper for me to get a cab than public transport. And that comes when my current house has bar none, the best public transport service I know of in central Brisbane.

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