Abusers of Wellington park-and-rides face clamping and towing in council crackdown


Users of free council park-and-rides will soon find themselves clamped or towed if they park illegally or don't transfer on to public transport, as the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) cracks down on abusers.

The new measures are just a start, with sustainable transport committee chairwoman Barbara Donaldson saying charges and swipe-in access gates for park-and-rides were likely within five years.

Until now the council relied largely on trust, but Donaldson said demand was becoming so great, and bad behaviour so common, that new monitoring was needed.

Some buses have reportedly performed 10-point turns in order to get out of park and rides as they are blocked by dodgy parking.

"People are parking illegally and dangerously on berms, and the worst thing is when they park and prevent people getting out of the carpark," she said.

The offending had led to buses being unable to access stations in recent times, Donaldson said.

"The main thing is we need to make sure they are being used by actual commuters."

Charging for park-and-rides was already listed as a priority on the Regional Land Transport Plan, which will be confirmed by the Regional Transport Committee at its next meeting on June 19.

"They are all at capacity now so we need to start looking at what we can do, because people say you [the council] are subsidising people to drive their cars and you're not being fair."

"When we actually have fully integrated ticketing we might be able to including parking at park-and-rides in the tickets."

GWRC rail asset team leader Barry Fryer said signs warning of the new enforcement measures had been erected at some park-and-rides already, and by the end of Monday the 13 worst offending stations would be covered, including Porirua, Petone, Waterloo, Paremata, Johnsonville, Redwood, Melling and  Waikanae.

The rest would follow in early July. 

Fryer said once the warning signs were up council was legally allowed to start enforcement.

However, most motorists would have about a month to adjust after the signs went up, with warnings left on offending vehicles, but no fines or consequences yet.

Those creating serious hazards or disruption would find their vehicles towed immediately. 

Complaints were now coming in on average once per day, with drivers being blocked in or dangerous parking the most common reasons, Fryer said.

"I've certainly had numerous customers on the phone to me quite upset they can't go and pick up the kids from school because someone has parked behind them."

Fryer said surveys of park-and-ride users revealed a large percentage drove to the station when they could easily walk or cycle the distance.

He said a charge would dissuade many local users from using parking spaces. It was too early to put a figure on how park-and-rides would be priced, but charges would likely sit in the $1-$5 range.

Charging for park-and-rides could be seen as counter-productive to the council's encouragement of commuters using public transport, but Fryer said charges would offer a new tool to manage ever-increasing demand.

"The main driver is actually putting some control into car parks rather than it being a free-for-all."