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‘Park and Ride’ pricing project in-train

The price of catching a train from Wairarapa stations could be set to rise after Greater Wellington’s [GWRC] transport committee announced it will begin work on a new project that would require commuters to pay parking fees to use ‘Park and Ride’ facilities.

The project will develop a framework that “encourages access to the rail network while ensuring that public transport users are prioritised over people who currently use free parking at Park and Rides for other reasons”.

The announcement came on Thursday night after a transport committee meeting to discuss Park and Ride management strategies that were workshopped in October 2023 – alongside the incoming NZTA Waka Kotahi National Ticketing Solution [NTS].

GWRC transport committee chair Thomas Nash said the Park and Ride framework would guarantee a spot for public transport users who are disadvantaged by the current ‘first come, first served’ access model.

There are currently five Park and Ride facilities across Wairarapa, with a total of 494 car parks.

Park and Ride infrastructure across the wider Wellington region has approximately 6137 car parks across 66 sites, with each of the car parks having an average annual operating cost of $118 – totalling more than $710,000 per annum.

Two-thirds of parking spaces are owned by GWRC or KiwiRail, while the other third is owned by territorial authorities and a few private bodies.

“At the moment, everyone pays for Park and Rides through their rates whether they use them or not,” Nash said.

“We are going to look at introducing user charges, which we think is a fairer way to manage these public car parking resources.”

Nash claimed the project would not be focused on revenue gathering but rather on reducing emissions and “traffic congestion by encouraging people to get out of their cars”.

The transport committee’s Park and Ride report noted that 50 per cent of Park and Ride users live within three kilometres of the car park.

Public feedback will be sought for the project through consultation during the Wellington Regional Public Transport Plan [RPTP] review.

Further details of the project aren’t available, but councillors agreed the project would need partnership with the region’s city and district councils and mana whenua during the design and delivery phases.

Nash said they will investigate “managing access to Park and Rides with your public transport ticket and look at combining parking charges with fares for onward train and bus travel”.

“We’ll also work with councils to coordinate any parking charges with those on neighbouring streets.”

The GWRC transport committee report on Park and Rides details the considerations that must be made during the course of the project, including whether they have the ability to charge, potential impacts, investment costs versus potential revenue generation, pricing, and infrastructure options.

Key stakeholders that will be consulted include NZTA, KiwiRail, and the Ministry of Disabled People.

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