Parking and Traffic congestion at Mapua’s Waterfront

Just how bad is traffic and parking in and around the Mapua Waterfront? Have quick look at this short video clip I took on the day before New Years ….around 300 (manual count) vehicles bad – cars, campervans, tralier-boat rigs !!

I know many residents who just want it to go away …but it won’t. 4000 visitors a day over the summer with a peak of 10,000 -which we know is what also happens at Easter. For better or worse, people and cars go together . Congestion definitely can reduce “value” created – both for visitors and for residents – but congestion can be managed.

If it won’t go away – then manage it better! And make some money to boot. If 4000 visitors translates into 1000 cars staying 2-4 hours, times a dollar an hour – you do the math!

Pay for parking.

I’m an economist, so you should expect this from me! User pays and the price system works to help manage parking elsewhere, and with good reason. Please don’t dismiss the idea outright.
Properly designed a Pay and Display parking system has the potential both to create a lot of value added: managing the quantity of cars parked in and around the wharf as well as becoming a source of revenue for the TDC generally.
Pay and Display system seems to me the way to go – along the lines of Nelson City http://nelson.govt.nz/services/transport/parking/carparks/ – every airport, hospital, event venue , and crowded urban area around the world makes use of it in one way or another.
Here are some features I thought of that a decent system might have (these are off the top of my head – systematic research is needed, and any suggestions you have are most welcome)
  • residents pass
    • The residents street parking pass should keep local residents happy
    • on the streets there can be residents only designated areas
  • peak period pricing
    • paying anything at all may only need to be implemented during summer peak period, or on special event days – e.g. Easter Fair
  • designated pay and display areas distinct from free areas
    • the current small park at the top of the waterfront park and perhaps one side of the new parks on Aranui road could stay “free”
    • and some parts of Tahi? Iwa? and Aranui farther away from the wharf (perhaps flexibly managed to cope with summer peaks)
  • discounts, passes, differential pricing
    • first hour free policy in Nelson car parks is a great idea – allows for quick trips in and out for coffee etc
    • seniors
    • handicap overflow parking
    • prices right at the wharf itself could be higher than farther away
As an example, over a decade ago the University of Canterbury in Christchurch had a large number of car parks, free for students and staff. I came to the University in 1976 and it was definitely a perk being able to park 50 metres or so from my office. But…time changes, numbers of students and staff grew, and so did the demand for parking . The free policy meant that all the available parks were picked off early – so anyone not arriving for class, or work, by say 9am was out of luck and had to park often km away. Part time students or those who worked full time and studied part time had real issues.
Invetiably, with a limited number of car parks on campus, parking spilled over onto the bordering streets and residential areas. Residents on those streets complained, got “2 hour” limited parking signs put up , and then the war of attrition started . Cars needing more than 2 hours parked farther away, more residents complained to the City Council, more 2 hour parking signs were put up in a sequence of move and counter move……sometimes you would park and walk from 2 km away!!
The Uni started a pay and display system that by and large works well. It didn’t increase the number of parking slots by much – indeed the space occupied for parking had much more valuable uses as buildings, but it made the allocation of the available parks a lot more efficient. Staff groaned and complained that a “perk” was being removed , but it also meant they could get a park if they were willing to pay , just not a park right next to their building unless they were paying $2 an hour!! Students who were in and out for classes could almost always get a park for a couple of hours , close to their lecture theatre or library, by paying the higher prices – remember $3 an hour for 2 hours is a little more than a cup of coffee. (Other universities like Simon Fraser University in Vancouver invest in multi floor covered parking, and some happily pay more than $500 a year for permits. The alternative is parking and walking a long way in the rain, or taking public transport which is what those unwilling to pay the parking charges do )
People used bicycles more as well as combinations of bicycling and riding – e.g. parking a little farther away then bicycling in. The University helped encourage these cycling walking efforts by having covered , secure bicycle stands . This especially applied to staff – and there are a lot fo staff at a University, juts like there are a lot of staff in the commercial businesses on the Mapua wharf.
But the real reason paid parking took off was much more mundane – money. Money in a cash flow form that the University started creaming in  – they didn’t put it back into parking however, but, can you blame them? Cash strapped…parking revenue has become a vital source of funds. I’m sure TDC wouldn’t mind the funds, and I as a ratepayer wouldn’t mind them having an additional revenue source to either keep our rate increases down or to spend on public infrastructure (think of how many times a year the water mains break in Mapua!!) .
Seems like a no brainer really: the technology isn’t rocket science, nor expensive, – and a summer time parking warden job for a student, or senior, would be great!
I think its worth exploring – but then I’m an economist!
ps PLEASE DON’T use/develop the remediated land west of TAHI street for a parking lot
Joni Mitchell says it all (If you’ve forgotten her wonderful song and lyrics Big Yellow Taxi try here on youtube) – the verse referring to DDT seems especially appropriate here in Mapua:
Hey farmer farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

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