Thursday, June 13, 2024

WFH didn’t catch on in Brisbane quite as much as some other states. It led to the country’s priciest parking rates

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Brisbane CBD now has the most expensive casual rate parking in an Australian capital, overtaking Sydney CBD. 

A day in the Brisbane CBD at a casual rate will cost on average a maximum of $79.83. In Sydney that price is $77.67. 

That is according to data analysed by Ray White Corporate which looked at the cost of driving up to all the multi-level parking stations in each state capital on an average weekday during work hours.  

Head researcher Vanessa Rader said historically Sydney’s CBD parking cost increased as the ratio of  car parks to offices decreased. 

Ray White Corporate Head of Research Vanessa Rader.(Supplied)

However pressure from employees to offer work from home arrangements post-COVID has meant less people have returned to offices in Sydney. 

She added new roads to get into the city increasing the commute time has seen the number of people travelling by car reduce. 

In Brisbane it’s a different story. 

“There aren’t the same work from home pressures in Brisbane as Sydney and Melbourne,” Ms Rader said. 

She said like Sydney, new buildings in Brisbane’s CBD have not had the same volume of car parks as previously. 

Urban planning expert and author of Rethinking Parking, David Mepham said unlike some of the other state capitals, Brisbane CBD had easy car access thanks to the freeway design.

“Brisbane does tend to see itself as a car city,” he said.

“It’s got quite a strong car culture and there’s an expectation that the government will provide easy car access.” 

Discounts to drive people to park

Most private parking garages offer some form of early bird or online booking discount. But where you live impacts how big that discount is. 

In Melbourne, an early bird discount will save 65.78 per cent of the maximum casual rate of parking, the highest saving out of all the CBDs. 

Dr Mepham said discounts, particularly earlybird, were largely to do with spreading demand so not everyone was arriving at the same time. 

“It’s also spreading the use of the car parking,” he said. 

“It normally ends up pushing early bird into the nether regions of the parking, pushing you down to the lowest levels of the of the parking basement that people don’t want to necessarily use.” 

Ms Rader said two factors were at play in Melbourne — more pressure to work from home and the size of the CBD.  

“You can’t park at one end and walk to the other in Melbourne, you can to some extent in Brisbane,” she said.

While private garages in Brisbane had the highest daily cost, street parking in Sydney’s CBD remained the most expensive per hour.

Dr Mepham said motorists tend to have a higher sensitivity to the cost of parking than other car related costs, such as insurance or registration. 

“A lot of the time we expect our parking to be subsidised or free and most of the time in Brisbane parking is free,” he said. 

Old habits

Dr Mepham said in Melbourne and Sydney there is a a general perception of good public transport which does not necessarily apply to Brisbane. 

A black and white headshot of a man in front of a book shelf.

Urban planning expert David Mepham says Brisbane CBD’s design encourages car travel. (Supplied)

“In Brisbane people have this idea in their head that public transport is never good enough. It’s always a hassle or it’s always an inconvenience,” he said. 

“Brisbane is also a low density setting, it probably has a higher level of car ownership [than other cities] and in the outer suburbs where public transport will not be as good.”

Over the weekend the Queensland government announced a trial 50 cent flat rate fare for all public transport starting in August. 

Ms Rader said the gap in the price of parking compared to public transport would likely encourage a large number of motorists away. 

However, she said there would still be a group of older people who do not have the same cost of living pressures who were likely to continue to drive in. 

She added for some people, even if the cost of parking continues to increase, they would be more likely to opt for a rideshare option over public transport. 

Could parking cost more? 

Dr Mepham said while private parking in Australia does seem expensive, it may not be reflective of how high the demand actually is. 

In Chicago in the United States, the city owned parking metres were sold to a private company in 2008. 

Prior to 2008 street parking cost as little as 25 US cents ($0.37) an hour, in 2009 that rate quadrupled to $US1.

Now in some parts of Chicago that rate is $US7 per hour. 

Dr Mepham said this was likely because the original price of parking was not at demand — and that could be the case in Australia too. 

“The demand price may actually be higher than what it is,” he said.

“Which would probably surprise a lot of people.” 

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