‘Oligopoly’ squeezes drivers out of CBD

‘Oligopoly’ squeezes drivers out of CBD

Brisbane is Australia’s most expensive CBD for one-hour parking, according to the RACQ.The RACQ has blasted a “comfortable oligopoly”, comprising Brisbane City Council and two major private providers, which it said had exploited an undersupply of parking that has made driving into the CBD sole domain of the very wealthy.

RACQ spokesman Michael Roth was speaking off the back of yesterday’s RACQ annual audit of capital city off-street parking costs, which found Brisbane was Australia’s most expensive CBD for one-hour parking, and the second most expensive city for parking overall.

But Neighbourhood Planning chairman Amanda Cooper disputed the motoring body’s claims the council was to blame, arguing it delivered the right balance of car parking and public transport for the CBD.

Brisbane City Council operates two off-street car parks in the city, at King George Square and Wickham Terrace, with the rest of the market dominated by Sydney-based Secure Parking and Wilson’s, headquartered in Hong Kong.

Though the council approves applications for parking developments in the CBD, a spokesman said there were no ongoing charges associated with privately managed car-parks.

While Mr Roth said the council car parks were well priced relative to the fees charged by the private competitors, overall rates for the 25,141 off-street spaces in the city were unreasonable.

“It’s a question of supply – there aren’t enough parks in Brisbane – but it’s also a question of a comfortable oligopoly with little interest in making parking affordable in the city for anyone who isn’t a corporate with a private park,” he said.

“Council tells us they want a vibrant city – well if you’ve got people paying an average of $42.31 for two hours’ parking and $65.71 for four hours while shopping or seeing a movie, that’s not going to encourage vibrancy is it?”

While Wilson’s declined to comment in regards to why their prices had risen steadily since 2001, a spokeswoman for Secure Parking defended the increase on the grounds not all drivers paid the standard “rack” rate identified in the RACQ study.

“The majority of drivers are early bird, monthly or taking advantage of one of the host of offers that Secure Parking has in the market,” she said.

“For example, through its free Club Secure program, Secure Parking offers all day early bird parking at multiple car parks right in the heart of the CBD for less than $20.

“To simply look at one rate of parking in isolation is not an accurate reflection of the full range of off street prices and offers available to drivers particularly when most of our Brisbane car parks offer 20 minute parking with some from as low as $5.”

Cr Cooper said the council was focused on developing public transport to offset a reliance on off-street parking supply in the CBD.

“We ensure CBD commercial buildings have adequate parking,” she said.

“However it’s a careful balancing act as too many car parks will lead to peak hour gridlock in the CBD and then everybody loses.”

Mr Roth said the RACQ had not considered private lease arrangements, nor included early bird rates in the audit, acknowledging motorists could still find good deals.

“But they’re not for everybody,” he said.

“RACQ has expressed to government and BCC that a charge to enter the CBD may make more sense than these huge parking charges plus tolls on inner city bypasses [like] Clem7.

“We now have relatively empty and bankrupt toll roads doing little to reduce congestion while we charge exorbitant rates for a short CBD visit. Is that really the best outcome our governments can facilitate?”

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