How Do You Deal With Too Much Parking?
It’s a conundrum facing many Cities. How do you get 85% occupancy when there are less than 60% of all spaces actually being used?
This is a question I ask here in Christchurch, New Zealand. The context is that after the earthquakes, there are now a large number of vacant sites, awaiting developments, that are being used as car parks. There are 1,500 cars parking in 2,700 private off-street sites (all open-air lots) in the CBD as no buildings are open yet. So how do you control parking to 85% when there aren’t enough vehicles to get past 56%?
The answer is to break the city into zones and manage the parking occupancy in the zone separately, then set a wider ‘working’ occupancy goal of about 60% to 85%. Don’t use too narrow a ‘band’ around the 85% target, as it’s almost impossible to achieve at this stage where there is a lot of vacancy. Zone management then gives you the ability to relocate vehicles around the city by pricing to affect the local activity level in that local zone, for the purpose of maximising the utilisation of the parking resource. You may be able to offer higher prices where there is a PT choice (by removing supply), higher prices where there is over-use such as on the western edge of the Christchurch CBD today. You can also start to remove spaces for the purposes of better landscaping or other mode changes.
We also know that we need to create and administer an operational system that will be flexible enough, over time, to deal with the current situation where there is too much supply; then change to a system where the developments have occurred and we have a under-supply.
The final step if you like, is where the city is fully back to normal and congestion is occurring and mode shift needs a bit of a boost, as most cities require a mode shift in their transport plans these days. To get the required mode shift, we may need to put in the plans that a desire that public car parks are all managed to a guide of 85% but also private car park resources (don’t know how to enforce it yet) are also managed to 85%. That will see a large reduction in extra car parks, the combining of car parks by neighbours and the use of car parks for other uses. UK CBD