Charges proposed for Wellington Region park and ride spots, mayors warn cost will drive more people onto the road

Thousands of daily train users may have to pay to park their vehicles at stations around the Wellington region.
But the proposal to do away with free park and ride spaces, put forward in the Greater Wellington Regional Council's draft Regional Public Transport Plan 2021-2031, hasnt found universal support with the regions mayors.

Several said the proposal will discourage public transport use, and will drive more commuters back to private vehicles at a time when increasing numbers of people were working from home following Covid-19.

There were more 670,000 passenger journeys on the regions trains in January, down by more than third since last January.

The draft plan indicated that charges could be introduced to ensure customers who have a genuine need to use PAR [park and ride] and have a willingness to pay for it, get priority access, particularly at busy stations.

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The plan said while offering park and ride cost-free maximised users' convenience it could also affect the value proposition for bus feeder services and the attractiveness of walking and cycling. The council wanted to use pricing to influence behaviours and get the best use out of our facilities.

Regional council chair Daran Ponter said the proposal was in response to increasing demand for park and ride facilities, and the cost of constructing multi-level parking buildings to meet that demand was prohibitive.

Cameron Burnell
Park and Ride at Porirua Station on a busy day. Porirua City Council is one of the few in the region that support introducing Park and Ride fees.

We can't continue to just extend the number of areas that we have for park and rides.

We cant just keep putting in more and more car parks without there being an impost on the ratepayer, Ponter said ahead of the closure of public submissions on Friday.

One Lower Hutt commuter, Marieke van den Bergh, said park and ride costs would disincentive people from using the train.

If it ends up meaning you spend as much money parking as it would to park in town, it is a bit of a disincentive to take the train, that seems the obvious.

Laura Wiltshire/Stuff
Petone Station operates a busy park and ride system, one of many through the region that support commuters travelling into the Wellington CBD.

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy said he did not support the proposal, which he suspected would cause a lot of discussion.

The people who are going to be affected most are people in cities like Upper Hutt, who use public transport every day ... the assumption is that they [regional council] will put more people onto public transport, but it could have the reverse effect.

Hutt City mayor Campbell Barry said more work needed to be done to make public transport cheaper and more convenient.

Charging for park and ride facilities ignores the fundamental challenges we have, and we need to get the infrastructure right first, Barry said.

Kpiti mayor K Gurunathan agreed. He said with Transmission Gully scheduled to open in September car commuting was already set to become more attractive on the coast and charging for park and ride would make trains even less enticing.

What they need to do before [regional council] even considers [charging] is look at better access plans to get people to the rail station ... until theyve got that sorted out, they shouldnt be imposing parking fees. Thats punitive, Gurunathan said.

Piers Fuller/Stuff
The park and ride facilities in Carterton, Wairarapa has 98 spaces for vehicles.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said that while his council did not make a submission, his personal opinion was that we should be doing everything we can to encourage use of public transport not discourage.

While most mayors werent on board, Porirua City Council indicated it would support the introduction of park and ride charges in its submission, predicting demand for public transport will continue.

Porirua station has the largest park and ride facility in the region, with 1000 parks available, while Waterloo station in the Hutt Valley is the second-largest with 788 parks.

Council spokesman Darrell Stathem said it had identified an opportunity to align park and ride charges with parking management within Porirua city centre.

Ponter said the actual amount charged and potential revenue would be determined once a detailed business case had been completed. Revenue would be put back into the public transport network, including to cover park and ride maintenance, CCTV cameras, and bike stands.

In Auckland, park and ride and ferry park and sail facilities are free, with the exception of two car parks one in Takapuna and the other near Sylvia Park mall.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster did not respond to request for comment before publication.


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