Monday, July 15, 2013

How do you deal with too much parking?

It's a conundrum facing many Cities.  How do you get 85% occupancy when
there are less than 60% of all spaces actually being used?

This is a question I ask here in Christchurch, New Zealand.  The context
is that after the earthquakes, there are now a large number of vacant
sites, awaiting developments, that are being used as car parks.  There
are 1,500 cars parking in 2,700 private off-street sites (all open-air
lots) in the CBD as no buildings are open yet.  So how do you control
parking to 85% when there aren't enough vehicles to get past 56%?

 The answer is to break the city into zones and manage the occupancies in
the zone separately, then set a wider 'working' occupancy goal of about
60% to 85%.  Don't use too narrow a 'band' around the 85% target, as
it's almost impossible to achieve at this stage where there is a lot of
vacancy.  Zone management then gives you the ability to relocate
vehicles around the city by pricing to affect the local activity level
in that local zone, for the purpose of maximising the utilisation of the
parking resource.  You may be able to offer higher prices where there is
a PT choice (by removing supply), higher prices where there is over-use
such as on the western edge of the Christchurch CBD today.  You can also
start to remove spaces for the purposes of better landscaping or other
mode changes.
Gap Filler Project - Christchurch


 We also know that we need to create and administer an operational system
that will be flexible enough, over time, to deal with the current
situation where there is too much supply; then change to a system where
the developments have occurred and we have a under-supply.

The final step if you like, is where the city is fully back to normal
and congestion is occurring and mode shift needs a bit of a boost, as
most cities require a mode shift in their transport plans these days.
To get the required mode shift, we may need to put in the plans that a
desire that public car parks are all managed to a guide of 85% but also
private car park resources (don't know how to enforce it yet) are also
managed to 85%.  That will see a large reduction in extra car parks, the
combining of car parks by neighbours and the use of car parks for other

That's the theory anyway.
Kevin Warwood


  1. I do like a good theory Kevin. Perhaps a discount for car parks near brick buildings ;) Seeing as they tip nicely.
    Or the free parking where you see sand.....

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  3. I agree with you that there is need of creating and maintain an operational system that would deal with such situation of too much splay. Keep updating.