I have previously posted on the high cost of free parking, the problem identified by UCLA economics professor Donald Shoup that arises when councils do not properly price access to on-street parking (see Another example of the high cost of free parking in Toowong). Now the Brisbane City Council (BCC) is proposing to cover the parts of West End and Highgate Hill in the vicinity of the City Cat ferry terminal with a residential parking permit zone, which will allow local residents to park on local streets almost for free and restrict the parking options of non-local residents, as reported by the Brisbane Times yesterday:
This is really bad policy. The most efficient (and arguably equitable) solution is for the car parks to be allocated to those people with the highest willingness to pay, which will include many commuters catching the City Cat. This also means the council can raise more revenue, if it properly meters on-street parking in the area. If it finds that, at the metered charge it sets, demand is high relative to the supply of car parks, it should raise the charge. In this way, the community will get a good idea of the true willingness to pay for car parking in the area, and BCC or private investors might well realise it would be optimal to build a multi-storey car park for the City Cat terminal, for example. I should add that having commuters drive to West End to catch the City Cat is preferable to those same commuters instead driving to the CBD or University of Queensland, both big attractors of traffic and major locations of congestion.
Local residents should not be exempt from on-street parking charges, as they typically are under residential parking permit schemes. Contrary to what appears to be popular belief, property boundaries don’t extend on to local streets. But, by granting a residential parking permit at a very low annual fee of $10 per vehicle (see the BCC website), BCC confers a valuable additional property right to local property owners. Given the inner city precincts that residential parking permit schemes cover, local residents are typically reasonably well off and don’t need an extra benefit handed to them by the council. (Incidentally, this is why I don’t think residential parking permit schemes are equitable.) If local residents are conferred such a valuable benefit by council, they should pay for it, through a much higher residential parking permit fee, in the order of at least $1,000 I would suggest and possibly much more.
New residential parking permit area in West End & Highgate Hill, Brisbane. The square jutting out into the river is the City Cat terminal.
N.B. I have amended this post slightly since first posting it.