Bishop and Ganley reflect residents serious concerns about city parking

One of the worst statistics in the WCC’s 2009/10 annual report is residents satisfaction with the availability of car parks. Only 41% of residents are satisfied with the availability of on-street parking on weekdays and 55% on weekends. The performance target is 85%.

In 2009/10 the city earned $25 million from car parks and spent $11 million, meaning it costs a dollar to earn one dollar of profit.  This is depite parking wardens getting incentives such as ipods and trips to Sydney to exceeds their fine quotas. The on-street parking occupancy rate is only 77%.

Are parking wardens being too strict? Are the rules too strict?  Would a more relaxed approach mean parks used more and less expenditure in collecting revenue? A lot of the focus seems to be on shoppers or visitors to the city, but people with cars live in the inner city and suburbs too.

Both John Bishop and Marcus Ganley want the city to ease up on, some might say, it’s overly strict enforcement of the parking rules.  Wellington makes more money from parking enforcement than Auckland. But their way of getting to that place is quite different.

Ganley wants to take the enforcement of parking back in-house so the council has total control.

Time has come to reconsider whether we should be contracting out our parking management or whether we would be better off having council staff employed to make sure the rules were being followed, but with a focus on discretion and commonsense rather than meeting ticket quotas,

Bishop wants more council control of the incentives for the private provider Parkwise, an arm of Armourguard.

Under the contract with the council, Parkwise (Armourguard) gets paid for each and every ticket that is successfully issued – that means paid by the offender, so Parkwise has every reason to make sure that it issues plenty of tickets.

In turn Parkwise gives incentives like iPods and trips to Sydney to wardens who do a good job. (The council denies the wardens have quotas or targets). So if we want the wardens to be less mercenary then we have to change the system. Change the incentives and you change the system. Only the council can do that.

Which solution would work the best?  Perhaps, these proposals sum up the differences between left and right on this issue as it does on so many others. You have a day and a half to decide which direction you wish to park in.

20 responses to “Bishop and Ganley reflect residents serious concerns about city parking

  1. Interesting. I wonder though, what it would mean for people to be satisfied with parking. Parking wastes a lot of land. That land is effectively paid for by all citizens as it is provided either by the city (paid by rates) or by forcing developers to allocate it (who then recoup their costs indirectly).

    If public transport were more convenient, you wouldn’t need to take your car in so much. Maybe instead of subsidising drivers by allocating more land for car parks, we should subsidise a better public transport system and reduce the need for car parks.

  2. On re-reading — people are unsatisfied with availablity, yet car parks are only three quarters utilised. This suggests strongly that people’s current need for parking can only be met by very wasteful land allocation to provide parks at peak times. Not to mention that making more parking spots will incentivise more car usage, leading us in due course back to the situation we started in.

  3. Just a note from the south – the parking satisfaction rate in Dunedin is somewhere in the 30s, IIRC, and even the AA agree that the inner city is awash with parking, most of it very cheap, so I suspect moaning about parking is universal. Perhaps the higher rate of satisfaction in Welligton reflects the fact that it is so much easier there to lead a car-free life.

    Shorter version – I agree with Stephen.

  4. Your correspondent, ‘Johnny’, has repeated the hoary old myth that Wellington’s parking wardens receive incentives and have to meet quotas. Both of these assertions are nonsense. I’ve just cut and pasted the following text from Scoop – where we had to leap to the defence of our wardens after John Bishop repeated the myth back in August…
    “Mr Bishop appears not to have read the heavy coverage that these allegations received in the media earlier this year – or appears to have ignored the Council’s clarifications at the time. The Dominion Post claimed that wardens had been offered iPods and holidays as incentives to issue as many tickets as possible. It is simply not true. It is true, however, that an overseas holiday is up for grabs for all staff of Tyco – the company that employs Wellington’s parking wardens on behalf of Wellington City Council. The award recognises staff who go beyond the call of duty. Tyco’s staff in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji are all eligible.

    One Wellington parking warden has won the trip. She was nominated for going to the aid of a woman who had tripped and hurt herself when getting off a bus. The warden rendered first aid and called for an ambulance, and waited with the woman for assistance to arrive. Two years ago a warden was given an MP3 player after being nominated by his peers in a ‘model warden’ contest. Rather than for issuing vast numbers of tickets, the award recognised the warden’s willingness to cover colleagues’ shifts and general helpfulness.

    The quotas allegation is also an urban myth. Yes of course the wardens are expected to issue tickets while out on duty – and that’s because it’s not hard for them to do so. The number of motorists who stay in their carparks over their allotted time, or who park on broken yellow lines, or on bus stops or similar, is truly huge – the wardens could never hope to write tickets to cover all the offending around the city.

    Years of statistics-gathering means, however, that the Council has a good idea about the amount of offending that’s likely in any part of the city on a given day – we also have an idea of the average number of tickets that are likely to be issued in a particular area. However many factors affect how motorists are likely to behave – whether it be the price of petrol, the weather, the state of the economy, the time of year etc. That means there’s no way the Council can, or will, impose quotas on wardens. If a warden returns at the end of a shift, having issued very few, or no, tickets, then eyebrows will be raised. As with all other people in paid employment, the wardens are not expected to come to work and do nothing.”
    Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

    • Richard the points you make are very fair. I agree with you almost totally. What does worry me though, is that on the day before an election you use your position with WCC Communications to criticise the policy positions of two non-incumbent candidates. Perhaps you could give us your/WCC’s opinion on some of the other candidates policies? Y’know, just to be fair and all. What’s the official WCC Comms position on planting lots of fruit trees along footpaths etc?

  5. Personally I think that parking tickets are a stupidity tax.

    The key to not getting parking tickets is to put money in the machine on a regular basis when your car is parked on the road. And if you’re going to be in a meeting that might run over time, put your car in one of the many many many off-street parking buildings that won’t penalise you for taking more time than you thought. So in my view the people who can’t manage to do either of those things deserve every ticket they receive, and I’m grateful that their stupidity contributes millions of dollars to keeping my rates low.

    • Clarke – imagine the millions that would be contributed to your rates bill if it wasn’t for the profiteers: “parking enforcement should come back to the Council to manage in-house. It would then be free of the profit takers.”

  6. Matt I haven’t criticised the policy positions of any candidate. I’m just pointing out yet again – due to the exasperation of our parking people – that we don’t do iPods and trips to Sydney and we don’t set strict quotas.
    Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

  7. Richard – perhaps you need to re-read your posts? Important that, especially during a voting period you retain not only impartiality but the appearance of impartiality.
    Your posts over the last few days do, perhaps inadvertently, create an impression of partiality.
    Finally when you say ‘we don’t do iPods and trips to Sydney’ of course you don’t. But whether profiteers who get to skim the top off parking revenues that could be used to keep rates down rather than inflating corporate profits. Have a look at Bryan Pepperell’s page – you might learn something about how parking really works:
    “parking enforcement should come back to the Council to manage in-house. It would then be free of the profit takers.”

  8. Matt thanks, but no thanks, for the advice. Even if I have to say so myself, I think I’m doing quite well to stay impartial. Feel free to point out the bias when you find it.
    Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

    • If you can’t see the bias in your dismissive comment about Mayoral candidate Bryan Pepperell’s page, then no wonder you are getting yourself into so much trouble. Apart from your obvious bias, do you really think it is good use of ratepayer funds to bully, demean and ridicule ratepayers who are trying to have discussion among themselves? Perhaps you could add ‘avoiding condescension when communicating with ratepayers’ to ‘avoiding political bias’ in the training course you need to take.

  9. Matt I’m now amused. Which dismissive complaint about Cr Pepperell’s page?
    Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

    • Just to break up the general noise, I think it’s great that Council officers are engaging with residents in forums such as this. Keep it up please (even the comms people).

    • Not Cr Pepperell – Candidate Pepperell. If WCC Comms doesn’t understand the difference between an incumbent councillor acting in their role as a Candidate as opposed to as a Councillor this is truly worrying.
      Your dismissive comment is immediately above. I suggest:
      “Have a look at Bryan Pepperell’s page – you might learn something about how parking really works”
      You respond: “Matt thanks, but no thanks, for the advice”

  10. Good to see the arrogant “we know best” style redolent of the Prendergast Council is alive and well Richard

  11. Richard MacLean has criticised me before, and I accept that he is doing his job. I have never claimed that wardens have quotas. Howver it is unconested truth that the company that employs the parking wardens gets a payment from the council each and every time a warden successfully issues a ticket. The more tcikets successfully issued the more revenue for the council and for Parkwise. I also back poper enefrocement. Peopel who overstay have to pay. But what I and many otehrs cannot abide is the overzealous enforcement where the wardens pick up the slighest infraction or hover about waiting for one. A mate of mine got a ticket from the council’s spycam car recertly for parking in a loading zone. Problem was that it was his vehicle and he was unloading goods for his shop, so the parking was legit, but he has to contest the ticket. and get it revoked. What a waste of time that is for a small business owner. This kind of behaviour is caused by the incentives in the system which rewards ticketing. And incidentally that would not necesssarily be changed by bringing the wardens back in house. It’s the instructions to the wardens not who mploys them that is the problem here. Whta I have sought is a proper review with public input so that parkers can tell their stories of (mis)treatment and we can all see what is going on. If there is abuse and bad behaviour by the wardens then the council can take action. That remains my pledge to voters.

    • 41% 41% 41%. That means 59% of residents think your policies suck. In a democracy one would think that this meant something. But in the WCC dictatorship, nothing to see here. Move on.

  12. I understand that someone, has for the past eighteen months, been in discussion with the WCC, and the Office of the Ombudsmen, regarding the criteria for getting off parking infringements. Despite the best efforts of the WCC, to obfuscate these efforts, most of this criteria has been released. I also understand this will soon be published for all to read. Parking wardens may have to be plied with even more incentives to increase the income for council. If Richard continues to re-invent the truth, despite admissions already made, a well crafted LGOIMA request, and some patients will get to the truth. Yes, as agents, these contractors are subject to this wonderful “sunshine is the best disinfectant” piece of legislation.

  13. ViV rather than making me walk around the building to find out whether there’s any truth to your seemingly sensational hot tip, why don’t you tell us more? It’ll save us all a lot of time.
    Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

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