Why the parking angels forsake you

Managing the traffic from a bicycle seat – TCC transport manager, Martin Parkes.

“After nine months out of work, I got my dream job. The only problem was that there was limited parking around. I took a chance and got caught. Okay, I will pay my fine. But it’s unfair!”

This is not untypical of the emails grizzling about the paucity of free parking in Tauranga’s CBD that come across Martin Parkes’ desk each day. He’s Tauranga City Council’s man in charge of parking – the transportation manager.

“I say free parking, but there’s nothing free in life.”

People regale him with stories about how it used to be. They always parked in a certain spot, it didn’t cost them anything and they could walk to work in three or four minutes. But now someone else has taken their carpark, they’re upset and they grumble to Martin Parkes.

There is still some parking in the CBD – but you have to be up early or you have to pay. “It’s all symptomatic of a vibrant and rapidly growing city,” he says. “There’s a lot more pressure on the parking infrastructure and it will never again be how it used to be.”

This week, The Weekend Sun begins an examination into the most contentious real estate in the city – just six metres by two metres – your average inner city carpark.

Two cars swing into a cul-de-sac off the Strand. Two cars, two commuters - but there’s just one free all-day carpark left in Anson Street.

It’s still dark. Brian Kelly’s telling us the 6:30am news is a couple of minutes away. But it’s already game on. The race is on. This is real life “car-mageddon.”

There’s a winner and a loser, but the outcome of the early morning carpark grab is irrelevant – although the vanquished mopes off up to Cliff Road to pay $2.50 for the privilege of driving a car to work for the day – not to mention having to walk an extra 200 metres.

“People don’t like to pay for parking in Tauranga,” says Martin.

The early morning Anson Street duel was more a salutary warning about the future of cars in the CBD and that entrenched belief in an unalienable right to park where we like, for as long as we like - for nothing.

“Parking is a finite resource and, for everyone’s benefit, it has to be managed properly.” Parkes by name and parking by profession – Martin Parkes, the man with perhaps the most unenviable portfolio at Tauranga City Council.

“I deal with a lot of emotive subjects – parking, congestion, safety,” he explains. And he has to front up to the public and the pesky media on those issues a lot more than he would care to. “Because I am the manager.”

People never remark on what a wonderful job he is doing. “There are not many accolades in this job I am afraid – I’m not going to win popularity contests,” admits Martin.

But he’s slowly trying to win hearts and minds by promoting a sense of community and understanding about parking and perhaps changing some entrenched behaviours.

Because Tauranga loves its cars, and has an unhealthy dependence on them. “Some 97 per cent of all journeys in this city are made by the private motorcar. It’s the worst statistic in New Zealand and it’s not something we should be proud about.

“I just want to achieve the best for the city in my role. I want to make people’s lives easier. I am not here to put barriers in the way and make lives difficult.”

But there is a bigger picture that doesn’t necessarily gel with what some people want. “If I reacted to every email and did what that person wanted, there would be chaos.

“I have to keep focused on making the city economically attractive for people to come and work here and invest.” And to provide a safe balanced transport network.

But first, we, the citizenry, the hoi polloi, have to understand some things. “The days we rocked up to work and parked right outside all day for free are well and truly gone,” says the transportation manager. “We can’t treat parking like we did 15 years ago.”

“We are a vibrant, developing city, the fifth largest in the country, and so the pressure on the parking stock is certainly increasing. There’s a lot happening in town.” More people want to work in town, more businesses are starting up, there are pedestrians and shoppers and there’s construction which brings its own army of people, machinery and vehicles.

“Cars don’t make for a great city - they shouldn’t be the dominant consideration,” says Martin. “They create congestion and pollution, and I can’t think of any great city that’s built around the private motorcar.”

He believes great cities are built around people, and that city centres are places for people, about pedestrians and pedestrian safety.

It’s all to do with the principles of parking management – it’s why Martin Parkes does what he does and it’s more complex than painted parallel white lines.

One of the principles is road safety. “When you have lots of people milling around, you need safe crossing areas. That may mean taking out some parking just so people can cross safely.”

But the main principle is the economic viability of the area being managed – ensuring there’s a high level of vehicle turnover for businesses. The ideal is two-to-three vehicles per space, per hour.

Businesses depend on the turnover of cars through parking spaces and people through their shops.

So if a motorist wants to stay longer, then they should head to the parking buildings. “It’s a difficult message to get across,” says Martin, “that of why we want to charge for parking and why we want to control and restrict the time they spend in a space.”

Tauranga is boosted by one of the most rapidly growing regional economies – and council did foresee signs of the pressure this would bring to its parking stock. In its Long Term Plan, it committed $27 million to parking infrastructure, including a new floor for the Elizabeth Street carpark building and a brand new carpark building in Harington Street.

“But building car spaces is expensive,” says Martin. Each one of the 550 carpark spaces in the new building will cost around $50,000.

“What we have found in the city centre is there are spaces available, but people have to pay for those spaces.

“And that’s where the problem kicks in, because some people just don’t like paying for parking. But in a growing city it’s a necessary evil.” And there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Parking is not a ratepayer funded activity. It is user pays. So when you pop $2 in the kerbside meter or at the carpark, it helps pay off the loan to build the carpark, the depreciation and the operational costs. “It’s like running a business. We have to meet all the costs.”

Martin Parkes is not preaching from a glass tower with the privileges of many executives. The transport manager doesn’t have a company car or his own carpark. His actually sees the future of the city’s transport from the saddle of his eBike.

“If I cycle to work it means there’s one more car off the road,” he says.

Next week: How you and I can help Martin Parkes and Tauranga’s parking problems.



Posted on 25-04-2018 08:02 | By NZer

You say you have seen park and ride in major cities overseas but do you realise Tauranga is not a Major city. Did you see park and ride operating efficiently in places the size of Tauranga... probably not.

As I said earlier, morepork,

Posted on 11-04-2018 10:30 | By R. Bell

build the attractions and people will compromise. You may even bike or walk to visit, with a happy heart. In any event, thanks for the stimulating discussion. Cheers Robin Bell.

@RobinBell (once more)

Posted on 10-04-2018 19:21 | By morepork

I have seen Park & Ride used overseas (some major cities like Birmingham and Dusseldorf) and I agree that it CAN be a good solution, so we don’t diverge entirely :-)... It is more of a "peripheral" solution, used to connect to actual infrastructure (like trams or buses) rather than of benefit to people who actually live not far from town. I realized in thinking on this correspondence that I can (and probably should...) walk to the CBD in under 10 minutes, but I don’t. Not because I’m lazy, just because I don’t enjoy going there...so I generally don’t. To revitalize it will require more than just car parks.

Addressing the facts, morepork,

Posted on 10-04-2018 08:56 | By R. Bell

if you insist. I don’t address other "communities"because the ones you mention are not communities, they are largely privately owned shopping centres. Adequate, free parking is all part of the package, for obvious reasons. Tauranga city centre is the result of a hundred years of slow progress coupled with slow decay.You cannot compare the two.When I arrived in Tauranga 60 yrs ago there was one set of traffic lights( Faulkners corner) and the city centre was largely as it is now. It is the administration centre for all of the massive development taking place. In my humble opinion morepork, park and ride is the best option, with the city centre closed to all but buses,taxis and service vehicles. Then we can all enjoy a city centre without the pressure of parking and access chaos, which can only get worse. Robin Bell.

@RobinBell (response)

Posted on 09-04-2018 15:52 | By morepork

OK, I read both your posts again :-) You don’t address the fact that there are other communities who are thriving with free proximity parking, you see parking as a "privilege" that can be abused (I see it as a "right", because there won’t be any shoppers without it...), and you STILL have given no basis other (than opinion) that expansion of the city (with measures taken to handle the parking for new buildings) renders such parking "unsustainable". I guess we simply have to agree to disagree on this one.

Read my post again morepork,

Posted on 06-04-2018 08:32 | By R. Bell

I referred to kerbside parking for primarily one vehicle one passenger. Removing charges for such limited parking would ensure abuse of the privilege. I agree the need for parking in new buildings is a must, such as the new Farmers complex, but in order to provide that across the board, old buildings need to be replaced. Whenever that is proposed by council, out come the usual protests.Even that position is unsustainable considering the limited access to the city and the congestion it causes. It is not the car that is the cause, but us that expect to maintain the convenience it provides.Lastly morepork, the unsustainability comes from the rapidly growing population and the limited choices council have. More understanding and positive criticism is what is required to achieve the vibrancy needed,be patient it will come. Robin Bell.


Posted on 05-04-2018 13:11 | By morepork

What basis do you have for saying that proximity parking is "unsustainable", Robin? If new buildings provide underground parks for the users of the building (as they do in a number of major cities overseas) then there is no reason why the currently available proximity parking should suddently become "unsustainable". I am not a TCC basher and I appreciate the great work they do in many areas, but I’m always going to comment on what I see as stupidity or vested interest driving decisions that affect us all. (Sometimes that reflects on TCC...) I agree that Tauranga is a great City (I won’t live anywhere else) but the CBD is far from being "vibrant", and yet we see communities that provide free parking (Bethlehem, the Mount, the Lakes...) all thriving. Taking thousands of carparks HAS contributed to the CBD decline, in my opinion. It may be irreparable now...

One point one is the average,

Posted on 04-04-2018 17:36 | By R. Bell

number of occupants in the average car. Yet again missy gets it wrong ( when will he ever get it right?) this CITY is vibrant and rapidly growing as Martin says. It is the CITY CENTRE that is not as dynamic as other similar cities, yet missy, Murray Guy and others constantly subject councilors and staff to unfair criticism, WHY? Murray is easy, he is looking for re-election, having been rejected more than once. Kerbside parking for so few passengers is a thing of the past. No city can sustain such misuse of proximity parking. Those who claim it is right because people want it, simply ignore the fact that it is unsustainable. Build the attractions and people will compromise, then we will all have the dynamic city we crave. Robin Bell.


Posted on 03-04-2018 12:41 | By Accountable

Do you not read the comments? Martin and his team have removed thousands of car parks and not replaced them. The car parking buildings should have been paid for by now but the Council have siphoned off millions of dollars from the parking acount to subsidise bus shelters and walking tracks throughout the city over many years. Ample free parking works extremly well everywhere else in the city so what makes the CBD so different? Council should at least replace those parks that they have removed at no cost to the CBD. It costs about $38888.00 per car park to build a parking building, certainly not the $200k per park that you mention. You are one of the people who don’t actually in your words "get it" and you really shouldn’t comment unless you have your facts correct.

Mr. Parkes...

Posted on 03-04-2018 11:16 | By morepork

... appears to have missed several points here. If 97% of all "journeys" is by car (a very suspect statistic BTW) then the REALITY is that people want to use cars. " I can’t think of any great city that’s built around the private motorcar.? Visit Los Angeles. Cars of the future will be less polluting but the here and now reality is that cars need to be catered for, Sure it is healthier to use a bike, but that doesn’t mean TCC should force us to use bikes. There is nothing "vibrant" about the current CBD and, at least in my book, it is a place "best avoided". MISS ADVENTURE (and others) got it right. Instead of spending fortunes on parking technology in a bid to make parking as difficult and unpleasant as possible, in pursuit of some PC pipe dream future, get real and deal with NOW.

I need to respond to Sollygirl..........

Posted on 02-04-2018 21:23 | By groutby

....’97% of all journeys are made in Tauranga are made in a car’...( who the hell decides what a ’journey’ is, and why is it anything to do with them in the first place?)..suggesting that (AKA Mr Parkes..they (cars) are EVIL!@!..get a grip Sollygirl, perhaps it is not the ’worst rate’ you say, but maybe the need to get to employment to actually build/manufacture/labour/service or whatever to help in making this a place for people to live, to grow, to thrive, to be happy,..so... Sollygirl, we are not all able to ride TCC sponsored eBikes to work, any many need to carry equipment and parts to go about ’day to day’ activities..I can only assume that you have no understanding of trade and commerce whatsoever, and live, as some unbelievaby try to do, a world differing from most others.What say you?

Get out of your cars

Posted on 02-04-2018 20:01 | By Tgaboy

And on your bikes. Everyone wants to moan about congestion but no one wants to change their behaviours to help it. We cant keep building more or bigger roads. Stop being fat and lazy and start biking when and where you can.

CBD is dead

Posted on 02-04-2018 08:13 | By Kefe

Great comments, MISS ADVENTURE. I feel the same. The CBD has been destroyed by councils who now want to spend millions and increase rates of consumers to pay for it. I was shocked when I last visited the CBD. Not a busy ’vibrant’ city when half the shops are closed or ’for lease’. The council must take responsibility (which they NEVER do) for this. Reduce the cost of parking, introduce free parking days (not just late in the weekends), invite people into the city not rip them off then waste our money like councils do best.

A GUY that doesn't get it

Posted on 01-04-2018 21:11 | By Sg1nz

Just read his reply and hopefully that is enough so you know how unfit he is for office, both in temperament and simple understanding. Some people don’t get it. There are only so many spaces. If people don’t pay, then commuters will park all and and then no parks for shoppers. Create more parks, sure but no one wants to pay the 200k each park costs. Lots or complaining and no real solutions.

Too Many Cars in Tauranga

Posted on 01-04-2018 18:34 | By Sollygirl

The key point in this story is that 97% of all journeys in Tauranga are made by car, the worst rate in New Zealand. Our growing traffic congestion - which everyone hates - is caused by our reliance on travel by car and this is wrecking Tauranga and our environment. For those people who insist they do not want to pay to park their cars, how about you consider using the bus to get into the city or ride a bike in, an e-bike if you want an easy ride? No parking costs with either of these. Great to see Tauranga City’s Transportation Manager setting a good example, as Martin says, "If I cycle to work it means there’s one more car off the road".

I can only think.....

Posted on 01-04-2018 18:05 | By groutby

....that Mr Parkes thinks that a motor vehicle is actually evil, they (motor vehicles) are here, they are staying (in current form, for awhile at least)..as already mentioned, they bring people, people bring (hopefully) vibrancy, and, importantly for Tauranga CBD, MONEY. The ongoing insistence from others who think it is their job to change the ’traditional’ way humans go about their usual ways is worrying to say the least. Mr Parkes I suggest is one of those. Smiley face, helmet (could do with a few more of those about)..’Hi-Viz"..perfect !..in HIS world. Not all people, few I suggest, are represented in this way. We all have different agendas that surround our lives. A rather dictatorial .. ’I know best for you’ approach simply is not acceptable, Mr Parkes, please respect the people who you are employed to represent and NOT the best for yourself...we need vibrancy in the CBD!

Most great cities

Posted on 01-04-2018 17:05 | By Accountable

were formed around some form of transportation, be it a bullock and cart to the motor car. Bicycles weren’t invented until 1817 and to go back to them is backward thinking. Martin, you may think you are God but you will never change peoples comfort levels by force and using the CBD as an example of what you want to see happen is beyond all realities of possibility and yet you continue to blindly inflict your beliefs on the small group of businesses within the CBD who cannot withstand the financial consequences of your efforts and who are continually being forced into giving up and leaving in droves even when the Bay of Plenty’s economy is the best its been in years. Please Martin get back to basics and concentrate on accommodating the motor car just as all the successful shopping malls do and make the CBD viable again.

If the Council were interested in solving

Posted on 01-04-2018 11:48 | By tish

parking issues, they would insist that all new build commercial building projects meant to house large numbers of workers, tenanted or otherwise, would be required to provide underground parking for that building tenant use as part of their planning consent and get them off the street. The likes of Trustpower bring their commercial hub into the CBD and their employees gobble up the parking. There’s not even any parking for people attending places like the Courts, it’s filled with long term parkers and there are too few disability parks provided in critical locations. They need to back track to shorter term parking allowances and free up parking for those who don’t park all day.

Rubbish Martin

Posted on 01-04-2018 11:17 | By Accountable

Because of your efforts the CBD is no longer a vibrant area because of your removal and non replacement of thousands of parks you, almost by yourself and through your own admission of previous mistakes, have killed the CBD. At least 45 empty shops and I know of 5 more who are in the throws of moving to the suburbs now. Parking is free when you don’t physically have to pay for it and why is it that only the CBD is being punished by parking charges? What happened to the fairness of a level playing field and user pays? The CBD foot traffic counter shows there are about 2200 people pass it a day proving we need more cars and parks to increase the foot traffic to make the CBD a more viable place to do business from. Bayfair has ample free parking and 20,000 visitors a day.

Bollocks Mr Parkes, you just love extracting money!

Posted on 01-04-2018 11:09 | By Murray.Guy

THIS is BOLLOCKS, misleading at best! RATEPAYERS and the NZTA (taxpayers) have already paid for curb side parking, just as they have outside their home, so it is NOT FREE, it’s paid for! Martin Parkes, City Council DO NOT have to charge for curb side parking to manage parking in the CBD, just as they do NOT at any other shopping/business precinct (Greerton, Mount M, Cherrywood, etc). To apply a fee is NO MORE THAN DOUBLE DIPPING. Where a parking building is provided, yes, their is a cost, plus a higher level of service to the user, security, weather protection, so users should pay. There is ’absolutely NO VALID ARGUMENT to treat the CBD any different from any other area in our city, serving only to undermine the economic viability. Traffic and parking management policies ’must’ be the same throughout our city.

Master Parkes says ...

Posted on 01-04-2018 10:58 | By MISS ADVENTURE

"symptomatic of a vibrant and rapidly growing city", however if that had even the slightest of truth about it then why is TCC wanting to continue to spend mega millions on "fabled" efforts to revitalise? maybe the quality of the decisions from the transport area are teh issue? No cars in the CBD, does not matter how much you shuffle the deck on that one no cars = no people = no shoppers = no shops = no jobs ... and so it all dies.

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