BCC residential parking permit zone in West End & Highgate Hill is bad policy

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:

Inner city commuter parking is about to get a lot harder

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.

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4 Responses to BCC residential parking permit zone in West End & Highgate Hill is bad policy

  1. Wade Ruffin says:

    Interesting proposition and possible merit but as a new owner in West End and someone that will have to use on street parking because of the inadequacies of the house (current no under house parking), I don’t want to be punished for this. As an owner we contribute to the upkeep of the suburb whilst people driving into the area to park are basically casual renters of the space and I agree should pay for the benefit. As a suburb with still a large amount of lower socio-economic homes a lot with out off street parking the $1000 maybe more than the value of some of the cars on the street. Happy to pay more than $10 for the privilege of parking outside my house but maybe not a gorilla!

  2. Jason O'Dwyer says:

    As a residents in said area I’m a bit bias. And while I agree that parking is a problem I don’t agree that city cats are our only issue. Construction workers in the area are in my estimate 50 to60 % of the problem. Both for construction in west end south brisbane but also the CBD. Queens wharf I think is having a peak workforce of 5000 if BCC does nothing then south brisbane to Dutton Park will be flooded with vehicles. Revenue is one thing but residents in any suburb expect to be able to park out side there house as we are expected to mow and maintain the footpath for council. If you remove the quid pro quo of verge maintenance the cost to council to maintain foot paths etc is huge. Not to mention votes and elections. Let’s see how this goes and see what the local community responds with

  3. bjreconomics says:

    Thanks Gene for another good post. Of course, this is another one of those situations where council causes the problem with poor town planning, where residential and business buildings are not able to be constructed to accommodate the demand (height restrictions, set backs, percent of coverage etc) so they have to act to answer the call of locals to have a place to park. Now the council implement another poor policy to fix the problems of the first poor town planning policy, to restrict people parking who are trying to get to work. Difficult to observe and measure the opportunity costs and dead weight losses.

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