Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spy-Car Demise – Replacement Revenue is in the Occupancy Gap

This article in the Dominion Post, Wellington in New Zealand, is an example of what we are starting to see around the world, city’s parking revenues declining as compliance climbs.  This is a good thing …. Well mostly.  Revenue is still missing in the gap between occupancy rates.

There are some interesting issues here that will allow Wellington to get a system that services the main purpose or parking, to support economic activity and get its occupancy up to the stated aim of 75%.

Council claims its occupancy is at 58%.  The design of its parking operation is clearly imbalanced or not quite right.  If it responded to the occupancy data it is getting, it would have dropped the price by now to encourage a higher occupancy rate.  It may even utilise a multiple price system where the evening rates are set separately to encourage the night time parking.  This is greater utilisation of the parking resource.  Whatever it does, it should be designing a parking operation to aim at occupancy, not revenue.  The revenue is the outcome of better occupancy and a better designed parking operation.

One of the major retailer’s answers was to suggest that Council get control of more off-street parking to encourage more people back into the city.  I suspect that, being a typical retailer, they want a car park full of people, circulating and queuing to get into their shops.  This is a bad sign, not a good sign.  Issues about retail are normally about capacity of the car park.  A well designed parking operation’s goal is full occupancy.  If you have a full car park, then that is the amount of shoppers you are going to get. If the car park is overflowing, you don’t get extra shoppers, you get people sitting in cars and getting upset.  The best car park operators are the private ones as their main goal is occupancy.  I suggest the retailers look elsewhere for answers, i.e. on-street pricing regimes, rather than who is operating the car park.

With the retirement of the spy-car, the Council is having some budget issues.  That is what this article is about.  Extra revenue can be gained in the gap between 58% and 75% occupancy.  This gap can be easily made up by improving the design of the car park operation and introducing variable pricing.  If the Council aims at getting a higher occupancy, such as the international best practice figure of 85%, then the revenue the Council is looking for is the figure between 58% and 85%.  That will make up for the missing revenue from the retirement of the spy-car.  Make occupancy the goal and not revenue.  Everyone will be happier.

This is the personal opinion of the writer.


  1. Other councils have been operating ANPR vehicles for sometime. Without complaint.

    I suspect this was incorrectly setup or operated incorrectly.

    Likewise there are providers of on-street vehicle monitoring. Which have been effective.

    I think it's a bit harsh to blame technology for this instance. Reminds me of the whole scenario of why McDonalds placing "Warning - Contents are HOT" on coffee cups.

    Do we need to put signs up stating "Warning, Don't park here, We don't need a warden anymore to issue a ticket"

    Completely agree about the carrot approach however. But I do not think you should sacrifice one (infringements) to promote the other (payments/occupancy).
    I know there is a win-win situation where you can have both. I have seen it.