Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rugby Cup Parking in New Zealand

All is in readiness for World Cup parking in New Zealand

With the Rugby World Cup only one sleep away here in Auckland, I have to admit that the mind does stray from the job at hand and the tasks that revolve around increasing revenue off a 6m x 2.5m block of land in the CBD are of minor concern today. The anticipation of such a big event in a small country like New Zealand is anticipation of an All Black win rather than the crowds of people who will flood the city for the opening night and the planned entertainment over the next 2 months. The plans are in place, the flags are all up, the rules have been published in the newspapers. And yet I allow myself a little rub of the hands as I think of the people flowing through Auckland Airport, through a car park in our portfolio, into the CBD and one of the many car parks that belong to the company and hopefully not too many into the Hospital, yet another car park in the portfolio. For parking, this will be a big event as well. All is in readiness.

A vague comparision with New Zealand and one of the major rugby challangers for the coveted rugby crown, South Africa, is a small trip into rugby/parking fantasy, especially since I have never been to SA.

New Zealand has mostly two main commercial rivals in the parking business, with a group of smaller businesses and local councils in the melee also. The 'Red' Parking company is by far the largest of the companies and is based out of Australia while being owned out of Hong Kong. They have a dominant market share created by being one of the first on the scene and has held over many years. The 'blue' Parking company is a fierce rival and has a large market share in the Auckland and Wellington markets.

The local councils are present and at varying levels of competency, mostly measured by their requirement to compete. An example of this is the Auckland City Council which has just spent many millions upgrading its very large CBD sites with the latest in technology from SkiData equipment, Meter-Eye vehicle guidance systems, a fully functional centralised control room, major over-road VMS signage for empty bay counting on the main roads into the city and dynamic signage at each car park. The investment has extending to Meter-Eye in streets and off street which may lead to a far smaller enforcement team as the signals from the meters lead fewer officers directly to cars overstaying their welcome in the busy retail precincts.

At the other end of the scale, tourist town Taupo, decided not to go down the track of charging for street parking and introduced the same meters to signal the end of your 60 minute stay to an enforcement officer, who would write you an infringement notice on the spot. There are the small vacant development lots with a pay and display meter but mostly parking in New Zealand is high tech as a result of high labour costs and high competition.

Apart from labour costs, I suspect their also may be one or two other differences between parking in South Africa and New Zealand, being the resistance to towing vehicles and resource consenting.

There is a general move away from towing in New Zealand as property law allows the owner to display terms and conditions upon entering the site. If you don’t abide by those terms and conditions, the owner can level an infringement fee similar to a fine as a local officer might level, for breach of contract. There is now a lot more revenue in levelling infringements than there is in accepting a ‘commission’ for allowing a tow truck company to operate out of your site and is a major growth area in parking revenue.

Resource Consents are an area where the local council enforces the ‘use’ of the land in the CBD and if parking is not a permitted activity, as deemed by the Resource Management Act, then the parking company must apply for a ‘departure from the consent’ to operate a commercial car park. The result of this is that the future of the small car park being set up on a development site in the city has now gone.

I do suspect that one thing will always be the same between South Africa and New Zealand and anywhere else in the world for that matter, the public will still resist paying for parking and we, as professionals, will still have to be on our toes in this business and the rugby competition will be fierce. All is in readiness.

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