Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reverse City Parking Planning

Friends of the Blog will know that taking on the parking issues at Christchurch City has been a huge challenge.  If you take an eraser and rub out everything that was built in the CBD over a hundred years and start from scratch, what would you build?  Over a wine or two, you might come up with some clever answers, mostly without the consequences of budgets etc.  But really, if you had that situation delivered to you, what would you build?  How would you prioritise everything?  Which issues would you start with first and how would you time your project completion times?  Now you might understand the difficulties of starting from nothing.

The team have drafted a Short Term Operational Parking plan (STOP) to give us some guidance for reality today, to try and link up to the various plans that the city has in the future.  The difficulty was that today’s requirements are almost exactly opposite to the requirements of a normal city plan, which normally is to encourage alternative transport, support a good quality of life and encourage economic vitality and replacing it with encourage people back to the city, encourage economic vitality, drop prices to reflect the lack of use.  More on the plan later.

The STOP plan (Stop parking plan as some wags have named it!) is designed to speed response times up for changes to the various controls, such as price changes etc.  Price changes are slow due to working through new internal policies as these requests are coming through for the first time, but the relevant parts of the organisation are buying into the plan admirably.  The equipment has major limitations to speedy price changes.  A meeting with the supplier around requests to speed the process up was interesting.

Price changes need to occur quickly as within the city right now, a street may have one use today, but in three weeks time, it may have an alternative use altogether, i.e. a building fall-zone takes out all of the meters and the associated contractors and staff then drive the need for prices rises up, before disappearing as the building is demolished and the street empties out.  Speed in response to changes on-street are paramount right now.

We live in interesting times in Christchurch right now.  Reverse city planning, very fast changes in on-street usage, fast changes to on-street demands, bottle necks in equipment capability but wonderfully responsive management.  Strange days indeed.

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