$16,000 cost as Council reigns in free parking 


30 July 2014


Rotorua District Council is  spending $16,000 to reduce the duration of free parking in the inner city area as part of the city’s 18 months free parking trial. 


A Council release outlined the changes agreed to at a meeting of the council’s Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee yesterday in response to recommendations made to the council by the Inner City Focus Group.


A media statement noted that under the current trial, free parking is permitted for two hours (P120) but this is to be reduced to one hour (P60) along Tutanekai Street and 90 minutes in adjacent side streets.


"While free parking has been well received by shoppers some retailers have suggested that traffic movement would be further improved by the free parking period being reduced."


A report prepared by Portia McKenzie, RDC Lead Advisor Inner City, said a September 2011 survey received 86 resonses regarding the free parking discussion.


"Of the 86 responses, 51 said "no" to changes to the current programme.  Of the 35 who said "yes" to changes, 28 requested some form of P60 parking."


People wanting to retained the free two hour parking, the majority, mostly noted that time was needed to dine in a cafe as well as shop and do errands.


Regarding costs, Portia McKenzie's report noted changing to 60 minutes on Tutanekai Street and 120 minutes on other streets would cost about $16,000.  No cost was required to retain the current system, with the added bonus of  no confusion to the public, which was possible with a mixed system.


However, Council statement quoted Inner City Focus Group member and local retailer Ron Finn says shorter periods of free parking before cars are required to move on, may result in better turnover of parking spaces with more bays being freed up for customers. 


In assessing the optimum free parking time for the inner city area council staff used data on parking space occupancy levels from sensor units installed in parking spaces, including vehicle turnover rates and average lengths of stay, the statement said. 


The statement quoted Portia McKenzie as saying vehicles were stopping on average less than 60 minutes in the current P120 free parking spaces. 


She said parking space occupancy rates were also relatively consistent at between 80 to 90 per cent through the peak 10am to 2pm part of the day, meaning one to two spaces remained available for every 10 parking spaces.


The changes to free parking limits are expected to become operational from around mid-November once new signage and parking meter labels have been produced. 


The new regime will remain in force until the end of the free parking trial at the end of June next year when it is to be reviewed, the Council statement said

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