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Parking Changes On The Way For Central City

A new parking management plan has been adopted by Tauranga City Council that will change the way parking is managed in and around the central city.

Over time, the staged changes will help reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, enable more travel choices, support retailers, contribute to the revitalisation of the city centre, and enable a more equitable user-pays system. 

The first changes on Thursday 1 December will see the end of a two-hour free parking trial and the reintroduction of paid on-street parking in the city centre with variable charges. The free parking trial began in mid-2020 to support retailers and help re-energise the city centre during a period of COVID-19 disruptions.

Variable pricing will allow fees to be set to prioritise short-term stays and increase parking turnover. From 1 December 2022 to 1 February 2023, on-street parking in the city centre will be $1 per hour for the first two hours and $5 for each subsequent hour. From 1 February 2023, this will change to $2 per hour for the first two hours and $5 for each subsequent hour.

Other initial changes agreed on today will see more mobility parks on Elizabeth Street and berm parking prohibited on the Te Papa Peninsula between Marsh Street and Eleventh Avenue.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the two-hour free parking trial has served a useful purpose but is no longer helping to achieve the community’s desire for a thriving city centre.

“At the moment, parking is being over-utilised by workers who tend to park in the area all day, at the expense of people visiting the city centre for retail or other short-term purposes.

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“Variable pricing is a great tool to encourage parking turnover in the city centre and give a real boost to retailers. We acknowledge this change will pose an inconvenience for some workers, but we’ve heard what our communities want, and our plan is to have a city centre for people - a great place to live, work, learn and play, that prioritises people at its heart.”

Parking availability is crucial for city centre retailers and reintroducing paid on-street parking will encourage workers and long-term visitors to use the parking buildings or try other modes of travel, providing more parking spaces for customers, visitors, and diners.

Council is also launching a new web page soon which will give real time information on available parking at three central car parks, to help people plan their journeys if they are travelling by car.

The rest of the recommended changes, which include paid on-street parking and changes to time limits in other areas of the Te Papa Peninsula between Marsh Street and Eleventh Avenue, won’t come into effect until November 2023.

Director of Transport Brendan Bisley says it is important to consider other planned improvements to the transport network, as well as the needs of residents and businesses when making changes to parking.

“We’re not introducing all the changes at once because we need more time for other roads, shared paths and public transport to catch up.

“We know the infrastructure isn’t ready to support the whole plan yet, so we’re taking a staged approach that allows more time for other Tauranga transport projects to be completed, providing better access for everyone and more ways to move around the city.”

As well as the benefits for retailers, shoppers, and the environment, the recommendations from today’s Council meeting will support a fairer user-pays system to cover the true cost of parking provision, which has previously been subsidised by Council debt. 

Providing parking is expensive and revenue from fees helps meet the cost of the land carparks are situated on, lighting, management, surfacing, line markings, building maintenance, parking meters, IT systems and more.

“Tauranga is on a journey from a car-oriented past to a future that supports a richer and more sustainable range of transport choices,” says Brendan.

“This plan is an important step towards that future, where people of all ages and abilities can move safely and freely around the city, whether they choose to travel by foot, bike, scooter, bus, or other types of vehicles.”

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