‘First hour free’ parking could get extension

FREE TRIAL: The city council’s Lichfield St parking building has offered the first hour of...
FREE TRIAL: The city council’s Lichfield St parking building has offered the first hour of parking free since the start of June. Photo: Geoff Sloan

A free hour of parking trial in two central city buildings could be extended up until the end of November.

City councillors will decide whether or not to extend the “first hour free” trial which has been running in the council’s Lichfield St and Art Gallery parking buildings since the start of June at their meeting today.

The trial is set to expire at the end of this month but could run until the end of November if councillors agree to extend it.

City council staff have recommended against the trial continuing.

This comes as it forecasts a loss of $300,000 in revenue from the trial by the end of this month. If the trial was extended by three months it is expected to lose a further $300,000 in revenue.

The trial has also only led to a 0.05 per cent uptake in parking when compared to the same period last year.

Acting Mayor Andrew Turner said it was important for the council to look at what was value for money.

“If we are seeing 0.05 per cent uplift in the use of our parking buildings and at the same time we are expending $100,000 a month, when you look at the cost versus the benefit it becomes reasonably easy to see why staff have recommended that we don’t continue with the one hour of free parking,” he said.

“It may be that there are other things that we can do in terms of events or other activations that would actually be far better use of the sort of money that we are spending on subsidising car parking.”

Central City Business Association chairwoman Annabel Turley said it would be happy to see the trial extended, but would have preferred two hours of free parking as opposed to one.

The discussion around whether or not to extend the “first hour free” trial in the council’s two parking buildings comes after the city council decided to convert a third of the parking meters within the central city to cashless.

While the decision to convert 65 of 196m throughout the city has attracted a “small number” of complaints, the city council sees it as a “sensible” move.

Users of the cashless machines are charged a 50c fee on top of what they pay in parking using the machine.

It is also possible to pay via the PayMyPark app which also charges users an additional fee for its use. For example, if an individual were to purchase $10 worth of parking using the app, they would be charged an additional fee of 92c, or if they purchased $20, the fee would be $1.72.

However, within a short distance of cashless machines remain ones that still accept cash.



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